Yamazaki 12 Year Old Japanese Whisky – Review

Yamazaki 12 Year Old Japanese WhiskyThe Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky Aged 12 Years

86 Proof

Price Point: $45-$55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Yamazaki Distillery (Produced by Suntory)



It isn’t very often that I’m giddy to purchase a whiskey.  My wife will tell you that the second I saw Yamazaki on the shelf of our local liquor store, my eyes lit up.  It’s not because I had heard such great things about it.  In fact, I knew very little about this whisky.  It was because I had been dying to try a Japanese whisky for quite some time, and it was finally my chance.

I first became “aware” of Japanese whisky through my marketing courses in college.  We were informed by multiple professors that if we were ever given the chance to do business in Japan, whiskey is the most well-received gift (small gifts are customary in any and all business meetings in Japan).  And not just any whiskey will do.  Typically a high-end bourbon will guarantee a favorable outcome.  Little known fact – Blanton’s is a brand commissioned and owned by Japanese investors.

So naturally I assumed that Japanese whisky would emulate bourbon, with their own unique twist of course.  I was pleasantly surprised.



Opening my bottle of Yamazaki 12 Year Old for the first time was exciting and confusing at the same time.  I was fully expecting the wonderful aroma of a bourbon, and was surprised with the wonderful aroma of a Scotch instead.  That’s right; the Japanese who I had assumed would craft their whisky in the style of an Eagle Rare or Knob Creek, were emulating Glenlivet and the Dalmore.  I certainly can’t complain, it just wasn’t what I expected.

If the aroma wasn’t intriguing enough, the taste will definitely compel you.  This whisky definitely takes cues from its cousins from Scotland, but it has its own unique character as well.  Yamazaki is a light whisky, relying heaily on a floral taste.  If you’re looking for a peaty taste, you won’t find it here.  It’s not watered down, as a “light” Scotch with no peat would suggest.  Yamazaki certainly packs a punch.  It just isn’t as strong a whisky as one might expect.


Rating & Recommendations

Yamazaki 12 Year Old is a solid whisky.  Even if you’re not big on this type of whisky, it’s worth saying you’ve tried a Japanese whisky.  It does seem to be almost “incomplete”, which is why I will rate it a 72 out of 100.  Perhaps its 18 year old brother fills in the gaps that this one has.

As with a single malt Scotch, Yamazaki should never, ever be served with a mixer.  I recommend a splash of water or a cube or two of ice to enjoy this whisky.

Although Yamazaki wasn’t at all what I expected, it’s definitely a whisky I would share with the readers of this blog.  Japan excels in a lot of things, and whisky seems to be one of them.




4 pings

  1. Hey Ryan, I’ve had my eye on Yamazaki for a while, and I’m wondering if you could please try to elaborate why this was disappointing for you. Was it just not your favorite flavor, or was there something really “wrong?” I’m a little weary now because you describe this as a floral-heavy whisky; I just tried Glenmorangie Original which is heavily floral and I HATED it… it almost made me want to puke for some reason (I’m not even going to review it… I found it that disgusting). I need to be careful not to waste more money! Thanks!

      • Ryan on February 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm
      • Reply

      Hi Ryan.

      In retrospect, I may have had somewhat high expectations with this. Clearly I was excited to try a Japanese whisky, and maybe because I had nothing to compare it against, it didn’t quite do it for me. Yamazaki is a pretty light whisky, and its floral flavor is pretty much what dominates and defines it. If floral isn’t your thing, then I probably wouldn’t recommend Yamazaki. Check out some other reviews first, though.


    • John on August 11, 2017 at 8:49 pm
    • Reply

    “The other Ryan”, you sound like a big pu*sy!!! I’m not the biggest Glenmorangie Original fan, however, saying that you almost puked drinking this guy, are you serious? Stop drinking whiskey and go buy some milk dude!
    About the Yamazaki, thanks for the honest review Ryan (the real Ryan lol). Really enjoy your blog / reviews.

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