Well, folks, we’re almost there. There’s still time, however, to whip open your Drinks by the Dram’s Japanese Whisky Advent Calendar to unveil Yamazaki 12 Year Old!

If you’re the observant sort, you may have noticed that it’s Christmas in three days. This very exciting prospect is, however, somewhat bittersweet. It means we’re onto the last few days of Advent, and the end of our story for another year. It’s been some ride though, hasn’t it?

Now that we arrive at window number #22, you’ll be delighted to know that Drinks by the Dram is finishing as strong as it started this year with Yamazaki 12 Year Old.

The Yamazaki legacy

Yamazaki was Japan’s first whisky distillery. A lot of people in the West don’t know that it started operation at 11.11 am on November 11, 1924, because the brand doesn’t make a fuss about it for obvious reasons (Armistice Day, if you haven’t had your morning coffee yet). Its first whisky followed in 1929. But the moment the world truly woke up to Yamazaki, and to Japanese whisky, it could be said, was when Yamazaki 12  hit the market in 1984.

The distillery is owned by the giant and originator of Japanese whisky, Suntory, and is located in the Vale of Yamazaki in the Osaka Prefecture. Here there’s an outstanding water supply and a favourable climate for maturation, so it ticked all the boxes. Plus, it’s a cool name. The distillery has twelve stills of three different types to produce a wide range of different profile whisky, as Japanese whisky doesn’t have the kind of spirit-swapping culture you have in Scotch or Irish whiskey, for example. The likes of Suntory and Nikka aren’t blend buddies, which means it’s necessary for Japanese whisky makers to produce a wide range of styles in-house.

The practicality of Yamazaki is not what the brand one of the most defining in world spirits, however, but the quality of the whisky it makes. The flagship single malt whisky from Japan’s first and oldest malt distillery kick-started the industry with the first seriously mass-marketed Japanese single malt whisky and the following it attained were those who fulled the fire of the Japanese whisky boom. The 12 Year Old was the first Japanese whisky to be given a gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2003, and many more followed for the brand. You don’t need to mix this one at all, but Suntory does have a nice little serve called Autumn Delight that we’ve provided the recipe for.

Yamazaki 12 Year Old

A true classic

Tasting note for Yamazaki 12 Year Old

Nose: Good body with plenty of nut oils and zest, a pleasant floral character with a little tropical fruit and a rooty note.

Palate: Smooth and soft with good sweetness and winter spice. A lovely citrus note develops with more tropical fruit notes and a little rum.

Finish: Medium with fruit and zest.

How to make an Autumn Delight

50ml ounces Yamazaki 12 Year Old

100m apple cider

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 apple slices

1 cinnamon stick

Pour the Yamazaki and apple cider into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Dust with fresh cinnamon and garnish with apple slices and a cinnamon stick. Serve and enjoy.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another advent dram. Cheers!