Posts for Tag: yamazaki

Komeda’s Coffee and whisky @ Yamazaki

Every time we’re in Kyoto, we make the quick train ride over to Yamazaki to buy whisky at the Suntory Distillery. For breakfast, we headed to our favorite coffee shop, Komeda’s Coffee, for some good strong coffee and the best egg salad sandwiches. New on the menu was a hearty tonkatsu sandwich which was crispy and juicy. The little one got her usual flaky pastry with soft serve on top, this time with strawberry sauce on top. Seems strawberries are in season!

With the popularity of Japanese whisky at an all time high, there are no longer good buys at the distillery itself. Aged whiskies are pretty much gone and the bottles that can be bought at the distillery can also be bought at most shops in Japan. Instead, the reason to go visit the distillery (besides the beautiful nature) is to drink some of the best whiskies in the world at extremely reasonable prices. Below is my line up of pours which ranged from a 12 Year Puncheon Cask (extremely good and can only be had at the distillery) to a 30 Year Hibiki. Prices ranged from as little as 300 yen (less than $3) to at most 2,900 yen (about $26). I've seen places in the states charge $15-$20 just for a pour of 12 Year Yamazaki so $26 for a pour from a $3,000+ bottle seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Back to Yamazaki

Being in Kyoto, we were only a quick train ride away from the Yamazaki Distillery. Of course I had to return to get some whisky but this time I took the family. No kids allowed on the tour so we just went through the museum and walked the public grounds. You can see my post from last time for info on the tour.

We ended up in the tasting room where I got a chance to try 6 amazing pours, 4 of which are only available at the distillery. It should be noted that some of these bottles are thousands of dollars, but the pours were remarkably affordable. Each glass is a good amount more than a half pour and all 6 came to about $60. Too bad you are limited to 3 pours per person but it’s not a bar so fair enough.

Here’s the lineup:

12 Year Sherry Cask - Light with a subtle sweetness, like fruits.

17 Year Sherry Cask - Bold with deeper sweetness, like preserves or jams.

18 Year Hakushu - Peaty but very refined. I’m usually not a fan of peaty whisky but I’d be happy with this.

12 Year Mizunara - A different taste than standard Yamazaki 12. The Mizunara wood gives it a more fragrant flavor though very subtle.

17 Year Mizunara - In my previous post I said this was the best whisky I ever had. Trying it again doesn’t change my mind (yet). Deeper flavor from the Mizunara that I have yet to encounter from traditional whisky. Completely smooth and rich.

25 Year Yamazaki - This was the highlight, not surprisingly. If you love 18 Year Yamazaki, this takes it to another level. So smooth, deep flavor, dark chocolate with almost no sweetness. Smoke but no peat. Can’t say enough about this.

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

We've actually been back in the US for a couple of weeks but I've been too busy to keep up my posts. This one required some time to sit down and digest as it was one of the big highlights of the trip. I've been a fan of Japanese whiskey for a few years now and one of my favorites is Suntory's Yamazaki line. We were fortunate that the Yamazaki distillery was only a short ride from Kyoto so I made the trip solo (no kids allowed, unfortunately). Located near the historic town of Ōyamazaki, the distillery is nestled in a beautiful mountainside landscape. The scenery here alone is worth the visit - as picturesque as any of the parks and gardens we've seen in Japan.

Before I headed to the guided tour, I spent some time touring the Suntory museum. Amazing to see the old labels from the early years. Most impressive was the long lighted gallery of labeled whiskey bottles from many different decades.

As we began the guided tour, what you experience the most are the smells. There was an intense smell of wood and alcohol in the air. Along with the heat and humidity, it's what I imagine the inside of a whiskey barrel feels like. Our tour guide took us through the entire whiskey production process and was super helpful. My only regret was not knowing any Japanese as I'm sure the pre-recorded tour notes did no justice to her animated narration.

You exit the barrel storeroom into a serene and almost magical outdoor landscape. No words to describe this.

We headed back to the museum and entered the first tasting room. Here we learned about how distillers taste whiskey and was given a quick lesson on how to make the perfect whiskey highball.

The final stop for me was to the paid tasting room and then to the whiskey shop. Here, you can taste some of the finest bottles that Suntory has available. Some bottles were only available for tasting at the distillery and are no longer sold at retail. Without a doubt, I had the best whiskey I have ever had - The 17 Year Mizunura. A mixture of smoke, caramel, fruit - in the perfect blend. The bad news, it's no longer for sale and going for over $2K on the secondary market. Still, I was able to buy some bottles only available for sale there. For anyone who is a whiskey fan, make the trip out. You'll have a blast like this guy.

Sorry to Oban and Glenmorangie ... I've found a new go to whisky

Over the New Year's holiday, we had some friends over for my annual meat fest before my three months of the veggie life. The wife made a variation on the traditional Bo 7 Mon (7 courses of beef) which was quite good. To ring in the New Year, I bought a bottle of Suntory 18 Year Single Malt Whisky. I've had the 12 Year before and it was pretty good as a change of pace to Oban and Glenmorangie. After having the 18 Year though, I'm ready to make it my new standby. Rich/smoky flavor, extremely smooth, no harsh after taste. I usually have one or two glasses during a meal but probably ended up knocking back a few more because of how good it was.

Only issue is price. At the few bars that had it (Ozumo is one), price was about $30 a glass (and well worth it). Bevmo usually sells it for $99 but they were out of stock at the few places I called. I eventually ordered it online from a UK company and price with shipping was about $135. Still, I'll make sure to have at least one bottle in the house at all times.