100 years is unequivocally a milestone worth celebrating for any brand. However, when it comes to the Japanese whisky industry, a century is about as old as you can get. After opening a wine import store, Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii decided to try his hand at making his own malt whiskies. Not having any contemporaries to learn from, he traveled to Scotland to study the craft of whisky-making firsthand. In 1923 he opened the Yamazaki Distillery, which continues to be among the most revered in the category. To celebrate its monumental anniversary, the House of Suntory has debuted two new expressions: one from Yamazaki and one from Hakushu (which happens to be celebrating its own 50th anniversary this year).
Highlighting the release is a limited-edition Yamazaki single malt that’s aged for 18 years in barrels made from rare mizunara oak — a type of wood that the distillery has been experimenting with since the ‘40s. Bottled at 48% ABV, this whisky features dark cherry and peach on the nose, leading to a rich profile of orangette, spice, and Japanese incense on the palate with clove, sandalwood, and coconut on the finish. Alongside the Yamazaki 18 is the new Hakushu release, which is also an 18-year-old single malt. However, this expression has been peated as part of the malting process — not too common in Japanese whisky. The result is a smoky profile introduced by aromas of sage, green apple, and pineapple, which then lead into an herbal palate featuring grapefruit, acacia, honey, and peat smoke — also at 48% ABV.
These two expressions also come alongside limited-edition packaging of Hakushu 12 Year and Yamazaki 12 Year in honor of the latter’s 100th anniversary, with special markings on the labels and new label colors.
The new Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt and Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara won’t come cheap, retailing for $1,200 and $1,500, respectively. Head over to the House of Suntory’s website to learn more.