The House of Suntory Whisky has announced its Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 will be available from February 1. Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 was named World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s 2015 Whisky Bible. However, sherry cask whisky has been a constant staple of the Suntory Whisky portfolio since 1924, a year after the distillery began construction.
Shinjiro Torii, the founding father of Japanese whisky first started making his whiskies by leveraging sherry casks imported from the wine of southern Spain needed to blend his famous Akadama Sweet Wine. Hence the sherry cask was the first cask used by Suntory Whisky and plays an important role in the origin of Japanese whisky.
Sherry casks are both revered and feared for their strong character, as they can easily overpower a whisky’s flavour. However, in the case of the Yamazaki Sherry Cask, Suntory’s chief blender Shinji Fukuyo says he selects only those casks in which the delicate balance of chemistry between the Yamazaki malt and sherry cask can be achieved, thereby enhancing Yamazaki’s characteristically rich and multifaceted flavour. The meticulous selection process of the Spanish oak, the management of the sherry casks, and the overall aging process ensure the final quality of the liquid.
Fukuyo’s blends are chosen from more than 100 malt whiskies and he is clear that he did not blend the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 for the novice. The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 is created for the “Suntory Whisky Lover”—a lover of complex, refined and subtle tastes. Like the rest of the Yamazaki Cask Collection (Mizunara, Bourbon Barrel, and Puncheon), the sherry cask is a critical component that differentiates and characterises the Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky.
The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 is undeniably where Spain meets Japan in the form of a whisky. Fukuyo recommends the whisky first be served neat to showcase its nose. “On its own, there is a clear and fresh top note. A raisin-like, deep sweetness that is both elegant and rich. You immediately taste the complexity of this liquid and the fine balance of maturity and delicateness. Served on the rocks, the flavour opens as you begin to taste the Delaware grape-like sweetness and its slightly bitter acidity. When cut with water, there is a soft sweetness that blossoms like the first apples of the harvest.”
Five thousand bottles of Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 (48% ABV) have been produced globally - RRP US$300.
14 January 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor