This month brings with it both good and bad news for Japanese whisky fans. On a positive note, Suntory’s new Hibiki Blender’s Choice launches this month, available domestically. September is also the month when we have to say goodbye to the Hibiki 17 and the Hakushu 12, as Suntory plans to discontinue the expressions first in Japan, and in then the rest of the world.
In this bittersweet time, we’ve gotten a little nostalgic and started thinking about some legendary whisky series we really miss. Here are the absent ranges that make our hearts ache the most by the great Yamazaki distillery.
Yamazaki Limited Edition
We’re starting with this one, as the news is fresh – It recently came to light that Suntory will not be releasing the 5th bottling in their Yamazaki Limited Edition series, after consecutive releases in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
The Limited Edition bottlings comprised of single malts from Yamazaki, with vintages reaching up to 20 years of age, matured in a variety of casks including European, American, and French oak. The series was and is hugely popular, and each annual release sent fans into a frenzy to get their hands on a bottle. Each release depicts the production processes at the Yamazaki distillery, designed by in-house Suntory designer, Akiko Furusho. While 2018 will not see a new bottling released, that doesn’t necessarily mean the series won’t make a triumphant return in the years to come. However, its revival is doubtful, so we’re going to keep on missing the famed range as we sip on the 2017 edition.
Yamazaki Owner’s Cask
There was a time, before Japanese whisky popularity skyrocketed and demand went through the roof, when every cask popular distilleries, like the Yamazaki, had wasn’t so valuable.
A few decades back, at this time, the Yamazaki actually sold full casks to different individuals and companies in Japan through a program called “The Owner’s Cask”. While not all of these single cask bottlings were great, some were truly remarkable, offering all the power and depth a single cask from Japan’s most popular distillery had to offer. As most of these casks were well-aged, the bottle numbers for smaller casks could be as little as 180. Should you discover any be sure to grab, or at least sample, it, as sales of Yamazaki casks are truly a thing of the past.
Suntory W. Whisky Shop Yamazaki
The W. Whisky Shop was once located in the city of Osaka, Japan, where Suntory originates. Aside from offering an in-depth look at the company and its roots, fans could always find bottlings exclusive to the shop, usually a variety of Yamazaki and Hakushu single malts, featuring a range of unique wood finishes and maturation lengths. Aside from the exclusives, the shop also offered most of the Suntory range, including some of the rarer, aged bottlings.
Sadly, the shop shut down several years ago and the limited bottlings went with it. Labelled by code, in small, elegant 300ml bottles, the W. Whisky Shop bottles are sorely missed.
To leave you all on a positive note, the ranges above are gone but not forgotten and Suntory continues to deliver fresh and exciting bottlings, most recently bringing the world the Essence of Suntory range. We’re sure there’s much more to come, to ease the pain.