Yamazaki 12 yo Single Malt Whisky, box packaging, 750 ml, 86 proof, available nationwide. Part of a nice bomb from Smokin' Sims, the Yamazaki 12 yo Single Malt from Suntory Limited in Japan, is one of the few Japanese Single Malts available in the US. Yamazaki is the oldest whisky distillery in Japan having been founded in 1923. Other Japanese whisky distillers are Hakushu, also owned by Suntory, Yoichi and Sendai owned by Nikka and three small independent distilleries Gotemba, Karutzawa, and Toa Shuzo "The man who was responsible for bringing whisky making to Japan was Masataka Taketsuru, the son of a saké-making family. He attended college in Scotland and even worked briefly at Scotch distilleries. He took his passion and ideas (along with his Scottish wife) back with him to Japan and helped Suntory create the Yamazaki distillery. While touring the Yamazaki distillery recently, whisky blender Shinji Fukuyo told me the relationship between Taketsuru and Suntory was short-lived. Mr. Taketsuru was interested in producing scotch-style (i.e., very smoky) whisky in Japan. The first whisky—simply called “White Label”—had plenty of peat smoke and didn’t fare well with the Japanese consumer. The product was discontinued, and Masataka Taketsuru eventually moved on to help establish the Yoichi distillery. " (taken from an article "Suntory Rising" by John Hansell) Yamazaki has 12 stills of varying size and shape to create different types of whisky for their blends. As with Scottish distilleries, only a very small part is used for their single malt. Aging is done in American ex-bourbon barrels, Spanish sherry barrels and something unique to Japan, Japanese oak used only for finishing due to the limited supply. While similar to a speyside malt Yamazaki seems to have a a slightly different sweetness and spices. The nose is a touch lemony, soft and sweet. Tasting is spicier then the nose would have you believe with nutmeg and brown sugar along for the ride. The finish is medium long with a clean fruity end before the alcohol completes the finish. An interesting malt that can compete with the mid-range from Scotland but needs a ways to go before it takes on the upper tier. That takes place in the 18 yo version which can go head to head with most of the speysides IMO.