As an Oracle Time reader, you already know that the value of luxury watches can increase over time, making them ideal investments or heirlooms passed from generation to generation. However, a watch can only degrade over time, or at best maintain its quality, whereas whisky is not only a worthy investment but is also improved by maturity. And at 55 years, the Yamazaki 55 by The House of Suntory has been matured to perfection.
55 years. Just let that sink in for a moment. This liquid has seen the entire landscape of the world change and has been under the stewardship of roughly five Chief Blenders in that time, because while 55 years is less than a single human lifetime, it’s an eternity for a business where employees at all levels of the company are constantly arriving and leaving. The patience and expertise involved is frankly ridiculous.
However, that’s enough standing around in awe at the nature of time and whisky because what happened in the 1960s was cool and all but what we really want to know is how is the liquid today. Well, this is actually the second outing of the Yamazaki 55, as a limited edition of 100 bottles was released last year exclusively in Japan and after all the anticipation that that built, it’s finally coming to the rest of the world in a second edition of another 100 bottles.
The tasting notes are impressive but it’s nothing like the odd dichotomy of smelling wood and smoke on the nose, expecting something in that vein then actually tasting it to be greeted with Yamazaki’s signature tropical fruit, like a barbequed banana. There’s plenty of unique flavour from the Japanese Mizunara casks and a bittersweet twang throughout, but what gets me most about this particular liquid is just how young it tastes.
As I said, 55 is very old and most liquids that reach that grand old age taste it, sometimes incredibly rich, sometimes overly wooded and, honestly, past their best. The Yamazaki tastes like a whiskey 15 years younger – something we all aspire to. By now you shouldn’t need proof of why Japanese whiskey – and Yamazaki especially – is a drinker’s darling, but if you did, this would be it.
The 55 comes in an engraved crystal bottle adorned with gold dust and lacquer, as well as integrating traditional Japanese handcrafts into the opening. All of which is contained within a black lacquered box of Japanese Minzunara wood.
Each bottle costs $60,000 (approx. £43,600) and they will be available from select retailers including Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Claridge’s and more. For each bottle in the collection $5,000 will be donated to charity totalling $500,000, going towards the White Oak Initiative that protects endangered trees in the USA.