Suntory was founded in 1923, when Shinjiro Torii built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in Yamazaki. Fast forward to 1984, and Yamazaki Single Malt debuted, alerting the world to Japan’s prowess at making full-flavored single malt whiskies.
But it wasn’t until the last decade that the Japanese whisky craze reached a fervor. Awards and recognition made brands like Yamazaki, Hibiki and Nikka household names and helped to kickoff a demand that far exceeded available whisky stocks. In the United States alone, Japanese whisky sales increased at a compound annual growth rate of 41.1% between 2015 and 2020, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. It’s expected to increase another 15.9% between now and 2025. And all this in the midst of an ongoing supply shortage from the top producers.
The spike in demand created a run on Yamazaki’s 25, 18 and 12-year-old expressions that emptied shelves around the world. But now, Yamazaki 25 is back.
In creating the reformulated whisky, fifth-generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo returned to Yamazaki’s roots: deep, complex whiskies that are multi-layered with fruit and oak. And he was inspired by the 1984 bottle that first introduced Japanese single malt to the world.
“We went back to the key component whiskies of Yamazaki,” says Fukuyo. “We deliberately chose to feature the depth and profound nature of the notable Japanese Mizunara oak. For in its meticulous balance with the American and Spanish oak, Yamazaki’s signature multi-layered taste profile and complex aroma is accentuated.”
Yamazaki 25 is composed of rare malt whiskies, all aged for at least 25 years in three types of casks: American oak, Spanish oak, and Mizunara oak. The complex flavor profile includes dried-fruit aromas balanced with hints of tart and subtle sweetness, all enveloped in the signature sandalwood bouquet of Mizunara casks. The finish displays lingering wood notes with hints of smoke.
The fine-looking bottle is wrapped in a handcrafted mulberry Echizen paper label, which is produced via the traditional Japanese method of slow-drying the paper on wood boards. Yamazaki 25 is bottled at 43% ABV and carries a suggested retail price of $2,000. So, it’s not cheap. But it is one of the better whiskies on the planet.