Perhaps the first thing to say is that this whisky looks great even before you pour it out. The seductively-shaped dark brown bottle, the black tea stained label, the large “Yamazaki” in lovely kanji—all of it induces a reverent state of anticipation. The nose is equally inviting. At first I think it’s the Queen of England’s silk gloves after arranging flowers; some sweet earth and vermiculite mixed with salty perspiration and pluck. But it’s a younger queen, or perhaps Kate Middleton in silk gloves so long and yet so sheer they work in vain to conceal the dimple in her triceps. [I think I’m getting aroused.] In the mouth there is a swirl of spices and slow-burning heat. It’s like a curry made on a Rosetta stone mortar with a unicorn pestle now bubbling in yak ghee. [Yup, that’s it; I am aroused.] The finish is exceptionally long and replete with the sensation of dipping a still-warm piece of sourdough bread in rosemary-infused olive oil with cracked black pepper. And now you sit back to savor the delightful spectacle of gustatory pleasures turning, kaleidoscopically, from vibrant, oversaturated technicolor to washed-out, hipstamatic sepia. It is as if you are caught in the on-rushing whoosh of being restored to oneself, of returning to normal. And there’s some plum molasses in the finish, too.
Our thanks to Yoshihiro Morita and the good people at Suntory for the samples. And our thoughts, prayers, and best wishes are with the people of Japan in the aftermath of the recent earthquake and tsunami.