|Photo credit: LMDW|
Anyway, let’s get back to La Maison’s pachyderm (cask #3T 70070, 57.5%abv, 444 bottles). On the nose, the initial impressions are: dark chocolate mousse, mole sauce, artisanal speculoos, macadamia nuts. Then, the fruit enters: apricot jam, Moro blood oranges, sultanas, dried prunes, brandy-soaked cherries, strawberries with balsamic vinegar, … Then, other elements start to emerge: spices (nutmeg, cloves), freshly polished leather, Frangelico liqueur, a hint of foie gras and a distinct floral note that I can’t quite put my finger on (I’m lousy when it comes to flowers, as my wife will agree). The thing that’s amazing about this plethora of aromas is that they are so beautifully harmonized, it’s as if someone – that would be Mother Nature – carefully tweaked the individual components to make the whole ‘just right’.
The experience is very different from sipping a similarly heavily-sherried Karuizawa, by the way. How can I put this? With Karuizawa, your feet are always firmly on the ground (sometimes, in the ground, I would say); here, with this and other sherried Yamazakis, they’re two inches off the ground. It’s a beast and it’s heavy but you’re in an area with lower gravity (a bit like that bizarre region in northern Canada).
Anyway, back to the liquid at hand. On the palate, it’s the perfect triad of sour, sweet and bitter. Sweet as in candied orange peel, Turkish delights, crema catalana and tiramisu; sour featuring lime and yama-mikan (a peculiarly sour, Japanese variety of mandarin oranges); and the bitterness of Seville oranges, dark chocolate and tannins from the oak. The finish is long and lingering on ‘Napoleon III’ truffles, orangettes, Korean kimchi chocolate, chestnut cream cake, a touch of garam masala and that floral element again. It’s sublime – it really is, hands down one of the best sherried Japanese whiskies you’ll ever taste in your life (and yes, we know, the competition’s pretty stiff – no pun intended).
You can throw your Christmas shopping list in the bin. This is what you really need to get through the year-end merrymaking. Apparently, there’s 60 bottles left. Just saying…
Read more about Yamazaki Distillery here.