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Yamazaki Tsukuriwake reveals what makes their Japanese whisky tick

Yamazaki single malt may be greater than the sum of its parts, but the 2022 Tsukuriwake Selection pulls the curtain back on what makes the whisky so coveted.

The famed Japanese brand has launched a limited-edition series that breaks down their blend into a quartet of expressions they call the “four foundational pillars” of Yamazaki.

Consisting a peated whisky and three different cask releases, the series also highlights their tsukuriwake approach, or “artisanship through a diversity of making,” which stemmed from being the first malt distillery in Japan.

Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Mizunara (Image credit: Suntory)

When founder Shinjiro Torii built Yamazaki in 1923, he had no Japanese distillers to swap whisky with, a practice common among smaller producers to expand their blending stock. As a result, he broadened Yamazaki’s repertoire by experimenting with various grain types, wash backs, distillation methods, casks, and blending techniques.

Torii eventually settled on a blueprint for his single malt, which combines whisky matured in puncheon, Spanish, and mizunara oak casks, as well as peated whisky. Astute as ever, parent company House of Suntory bottled them as four non-age statement expressions at 48 percent ABV.

The Puncheon is what the brand calls “the heart” of their single malt. Comprised of non-peated and peated single malts aged in in puncheon casks, which are large, 480-litre American oak barrels, it most closely resembles Yamazaki’s core product with notes of green apple, honey, and vanilla. Distinctly darker-hued than the rest, Spanish Oak is the depth enhancer that offers raisin and dried plum, with a luscious texture and refreshing acidity in the finish.

Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Puncheon (Image credit: Suntory)

In the blend, Peated Malt brings complexity and persistence, and on its own it delivers subtle smoke with green herbal notes, followed by a palate of ripe pineapple and citrus, and a lingering peaty finish. Perhaps the crown of the lot is Mizunara. The Japanese oak-matured single malt gives the blend spicy and woody flavours, and here it serves aromas of white flowers and cinnamon, followed by an elegant mouthful of sweet spice and a sandalwood-like finish. The average age of Mizunara whisky is also between 15 to 18 years old, while the rest hover around a decade.

Yamazaki is promoting the Tsukuriwake collection as a series starting August 2022. No price has been announced yet, but expect it to be an ocean of cash. They are also partnering with Burnt Ends and Meatsmith Little India for pairing dinners in July and August.

The 2022 Yamazaki Limited Edition Tsukuriwake Selection will be available at selected The Whisky Distillery stores and Wines N Spirits.

Yamazaki Tsukuriwake reveals what makes their Japanese whisky tick

Jethro Kang

Jethro enjoys wine, biking, and climbing, and he's terrible at all three. In between them, he drinks commercial lagers, and eats dumplings and gelati.

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