Yamazaki 12 – Not Your Father’s Scotch

Yamazaki 12

There is no dispute that Japanese Whisky can trace its roots back to Scotland. Nearly a century ago, Masataka Taketsuru famously went to Scotland to study and get hands-on experience distilling Scotch in the Speyside and Campbeltown regions. After returning to Japan, Taketsuru joined forces with Shinjiro Torii and they built the Yamazaki Distillery in 1923 near Kyoto. Taketsuru left Yamazaki in 1934 to build the Yoichi Distillery in a different part of the country to better mirror climate conditions he had seen in Scotland. Since then, the Japanese have become well versed in distilling the water of life and even today these two founding visionaries continue to dominate Japanese whisky as their companies have grown into Suntory (Torii) and Nikka (Taketsuru).

Japanese whisky is often compared to Scotch and this is a natural comparison given its previously discussed roots. This comparison, however, is a disservice. While inspired by Scottish whisky, Japanese whisky stands on its own and the varieties of whiskies emerging from the Land of the Rising Sun are sophisticated, multilayered, and creative in their own right.

One of these whiskies is Yamazaki 12 year old single malt (43%ABV, $100+). The 100% malted barley distillate is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon casks, sherry casks, and mizurana oak casks. Visually, the coloring is golden to amber, shimmering in the light. It’s inviting you to come on a journey.

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Mellow Corn Review

Mellow Corn

Mellow Corn is a Straight Corn Whiskey produced by one of my favorite distilleries, Heaven Hill. It is made from a 90% corn mash bill and aged in USED Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels for no less than four years. It is Bottled in Bond, meaning the whiskey is the product of one distillation season and one distiller at a single distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years, and it must be bottled at exactly 100 proof.

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Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2: The Single Barrels

Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2

Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2

Buffalo Trace Distillery has a rich history and enviable product line. It currently produces many of the most sought after whiskies on the market, including the Van Winkle line and the bottles comprising the Antique Collection. But other bottles, such as Elmer T. Lee and Blanton’s Single Barrel, are nearly as elusive and revered for whiskey connoisseurs.

Several friends and I recently tasted an abbreviated lineup of the bottles comprising Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2 – Hancock’s President’s Reserve, Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, Blanton’s Single Barrel, Rock Hill Farms, and Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel. Each contain the same mash bill, are non-age stated, and single barrel releases.

[For our final conclusions and links to the other Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2 reviews, click here.]

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Caol Ila 18 Review – An Approachable Islay

Caol Ila 18

Located on the eastern coast of the Islay region in Scotland just across the straight from Jura, Caol Ila can trace its roots back to 1846.  However, the current large-production distillery, sitting on the site of the original distillery, was completed just over 40 years ago.   Expansion was warranted as Coal Ila positioned itself to a supplier for outside blenders.   Not surprisingly,  it is now owned by Diageo.

Caol Ila is often known as one of the more approachable Islay whiskies, which are known for their extreme smoked peat character.  Caol Ila’s offerings, however, often soften the harsh smoke with floral, peppery and fruity notes.  Because of this softer approach to smoke and peat, much of Caol Ila’s production is used by Diageo in other branded blends (like Johnnie Walker) or sold to outside blended scotch producers.

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Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Experience

Knob Creek Single Barrel

Mash bill. Barrel char level. Which rickhouse floor. There are many variables that contribute to what makes each bourbon brand unique. But, even within a particular brand, a slight variation to any particular variable also yields notable differing characteristics. What if you could isolate a few variables within a particular brand to compare the results?

Scott Hill and I were fortunate enough to engage in this exercise. Thanks to R&J Discount Liquor‘s willingness to share, we were able to test three samples of Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. The store received the samples to select which barrel they will used for their own store pick Knob Creek Single Barrel selection.

[Click here to see R&J’s final selection and where to purchase a bottle!] 

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