The home of Japanese whisky has dropped a bombshell new expression. Overnight, the House of Suntory has announced the global release of Yamakazi 55, the oldest bottling in the whisky producer’s history. Bottled in 2020, the ultra-limited new drop is set to celebrate the Japanese “Showa” era of the 1960s, a period that represented a major change for the House of Suntory. But don’t expect this one to come cheap. With only select regions to score the incredible expression, The House of Suntory has priced the Yamakazi 55 at a cool AUD$90,000.
For fans of the House of Suntory, the Yamazaki 55 represents the very best in Japanese whisky. Crafted from a blend of precious single malts which features elements distilled in 1960 under the supervision of Suntory’s founder Shinjiro Torii, the release was then aged in Mizunara casks with the help of Suntory’s Second Master Blender Keizo Saji, before being finished in White Oak casks.
According to The House of Suntory, the 55-year-old release Fifth-Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo worked closely with Third-Generation Master Blender Shingo Torii to reveal the whisky’s ‘exceptional depth, complexity and wisdom’. What you are left with is a deep amber colour; complete with a robust aroma redolent of sandalwood and well-ripened fruit; sweet, slightly bitter and woody palate; and slightly bitter yet sweet and rich finish.
“Throughout the process of blending Yamakazi 55, I used as inspiration the passage of time and ‘Wabi-sabi’ – the Japanese belief that imperfections can help to ultimately contribute to perfection,” said Fukuyo. “While I often view other extra-aged whiskies as art, I consider Yamakazi 55 to be more like a Buddhist statue: calm and mysterious, requiring time to truly enjoy the inner beauty.”
For those willing to fork out the AUD$90,000 price tag, the Yamazaki 55 will arrive presented in a crystal bottle with a unique touch. The word “Yamazaki” is visible, carefully engraved in calligraphy using the technique of sandblasting and featuring real gold dust and lacquer on the age marking. In a nod to The House of Suntory’s Japanese heritage, the bottle’s opening is wrapped in handmade Echizen washi paper and bound with a Kyo-kumihimo plaited cord, a traditional craft from Kyoto. Each bottle is delivered in a bespoke box made from native Japanese Mizunara wood and coated with Suruga lacquer.
Understandably, the announcement of the Yamakazi 55 global release has swept through the whisky world. Since it originally debuted last year, the 55-year-old expression has become one the most sought-after Japanese releases in history. In fact, just last year, Bonhams Hong Kong set a new record for the most expensive Japanese whisky sold at auction after a bottle of Yamazaki 55 Years Old sold for HK$6.2 million (USD$795,000).
Priced at AUD$90,000, the new Yamazaki 55 will be available in extremely limited quantities starting this month, from retailers Vintage Cellars, Dan Murphy’s, Crown Casino and Oak Barrel Sydney.
Tasting Notes – Yamazaki 55, 46% ABV
Colour: Deep amber distinctive of Mizunara casks.
Nose: A robust aroma redolent of sandalwood. A sweet, mature bouquet like well-ripened fruit.
Palate: A soft, smooth first sip that blossoms in the mouth with flavour. A mixture of sweet and slightly bitter, followed by a woody note from the Mizunara cask.
Finish: Slightly bitter, a fragrance like scented wood and a hint of smokiness. A sweet, rich, lingering finish.