When it comes to whiskey, the thread between Scotland and Japan has been incredibly tight since the latter began developing its techniques over 100 years ago. While the terroir, oak, and climate are much different in each country, Japanese whisky makers owe a lot to the Scottish style after which they modeled their own. However, with this new expression from Glenfiddich, the Scotch icon returns the favor by implementing Japan’s oldest liquor.
As part of the distillery’s Grand Series, Glenfiddich’s new single malt whisky is called Grand Yozakura and has been aged for 29 years, the last six months of which were spent in casks that formerly held awamori liquor from Japan — the first single malt Scotch to ever do so. A refined version of a similar Thai spirit brought to the country in the 1400s, awamori is made by mixing long-grain indica rice and koji mold prior to distilling. Unlike sake, another Japanese rice-based alcoholic beverage, awamori is not brewed. Awamori aged in oak casks is relatively rare in and of itself since the liquor is typically aged in clay pots instead. So the fact that Glenfiddich was able to acquire the vessels necessary for this release is special as well. The unconventional finishing process imparts an earthy profile with notes of vanilla toffee, sherbet lemons, green apples, and toasted oak.
This Glenfiddich release kicks off a new collection within the Grand Series, which will finish its liquid in rare casks from across the globe. Grand Yozakura honors Hanami, a cherry blossom (sakura) festival that celebrates the temporal beauty of nature (Yozakura is Japanese for “night sakura”). Placed inside a rotating box covered with cherry blossoms, the bottle that contains the expression is topped with a bespoke stopper featuring a Hanko stamp engraving.
Only a limited number of Grand Yozakura will be released, and they won’t come cheap. The suggested retail on the expression is $1,999 and can be purchased through Glenfiddich via a ballot process that closes on April 20.