Mrs. B tastes Japanese Whisky – Hot and Cold

Around about the time that my curiosity was initially sparked by whisky, DTS arranged a Japanese whisky tasting using miniatures for the two of us and a good friend. I was impressed (it was definitely the highlight of the various country-themed tastings that we had), but haven’t been tried any again since. Then, on my first trip to the Imbibe tradeshow this year, we spotted the first three of the whiskies tasted below. The gentleman representing the brand said that they were all recommended served from the freezer, so we quickly requested samples to dedicate a bit more time to at home.

Following the recommendation, I’ve tried each of these whiskies both at room temperature and from the freezer. As usual, I asked DTS to to help me make this a blind tasting, enabling me to focus more on what they tasted like.

1) Suntory Yamazaki 12 Year Old (43%ABV)

Room temperature:
Nose: Very sweet: caramel, sweet wood varnish, light vanilla and a hint of sweet spice, like cinnamon.
Taste: Solid, genuine wood notes at the fore – mainly oak, balanced with some warmth. Wonderfully easy-to-drink, being smooth, but not boring. Excellent! No artificial or distracting notes come into play at all, either in the mouth or on the finish, making this just a really easy, tasty drink. I can imagine it being a top-notch whisky to have over conversation with friends – just crack open the bottle, get some glasses and pour!

From the freezer:
Nose: Light, sweet, syrupy and warm.
Taste: A lot dryer and less sweet. There’s more complexity when it’s chilled, with a greater variety of wood notes, but I do miss the excellent balance and fuss-free enjoyment of this whisky at room temperature.

2) Suntory Hakushu 12 Year Old (43.5%ABV)

Room temperature:
Nose: Lighter; sea salt and a very light hint of chlorine, but it’s not unpleasant.
Taste: A very silky texture to start and then lots of peat! A lovely surprise. The smokiness supports the same sea salt freshness from the nose, along with a fruitiness. The finish gradually fades away in a very comforting fashion.

From the freezer:
Nose: A very faint, savoury nose that’s difficult to make out.
Taste: Oddly, this is both viscous and tastes stronger than at room temperature; there’s both more wood and more alcohol. At the start – and front of the mouth – there’s a distinctive soda water flavour, followed by a slightly disconnected, but not unpleasant, warm finish.


3) Suntory Hibiki 17 Year Old (43%ABV)

Room temperature:
Nose: Sweet, gold syrup with underlying notes of wood and straw. Flapjack with a hint of salt.
Taste: Definitely savoury, with notes of wood and a touch of carbonated water in the middle. A slightly herbal, leafy, bitter finish.

From the freezer:
Nose: Very sweet and syrupy, with notes of flapjack and cherry liqueur chocolates.
Taste: Intriguingly sweet, given how savoury this was at room temperature.



4) Suntory Yamazaki 1993 Heavily Peated (62%ABV)

Room temperature:
Nose: Smoked Applewood cheese with a hint of paprika, followed by drier notes of wood and straw.
Taste: Pow! Strong, tasty peaty notes, heavily leaning towards smoked cheese. With a drop of water, this became sweeter and spicier, but also somewhat less balanced; the smoked cheese notes were still present at the start, but these faded into a watery flavour, rounded off with the taste of smoked wood chips.

From the freezer:
Nose: Lighter than at room temperature, but the smoked cheese is still present.
Taste: Unlike all of the others, this tasted better to me after having been in the freezer: it tasted lighter and was easier to drink, but still had lots of smoky character and was almost creamy smooth. Excellent.

In Conclusion

This was an excellent selection of whiskies; each different in their own way, but each very tasty indeed. I was particularly impressed with the unfussy Yamazaki 12 Year Old that was, nonetheless, full to the brim with character and then the intense, creamy smokiness of the Yamazki 1993. Regarding the recommendation to serve these from the freezer, I only found that this improved things with the fourth whisky; I’d much rather save both time and effort and drink the rest at room temperature.

– Mrs. B.

This entry was posted in Mrs. B. & The Whispers of Whisk(e)y and tagged , , , , , by DTS. Bookmark the permalink.

About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

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