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Yamazaki 55 to roll out globally

House of Suntory is preparing to release Yamazaki 55, its oldest whisky to date, in markets around the world.

Yamazaki 55
Yamazaki 55 was aged in mizunara and white oak casks

Suntory first unveiled the 55-year-old whisky in June 2020, launching just 100 bottles into the Japanese market.

In August of last year, one of those bottles set a new record for the most expensive Japanese whisky sold at auction, bringing in HK$6.2 million (US$795,000) at Bonhams Hong Kong.

Now the whisky maker is embarking on a global release for the coveted expression, which will retail for a cool US$60,000 when it drops later this month.

Yamazaki 55 is a blend of single malts that includes components distilled in 1960 under the eye of Shinjiro Torii, who founded House of Suntory in 1923.

The liquid was aged in mizunara casks before being moved to white oak casks in 1964 by Suntory’s second master blender, Keizo Saji. It was bottled in 2020.

The 46% ABV whisky is said to deliver aromas of sandalwood and well-ripened fruit, while the palate features sweet and slightly bitter notes unfolding to a touch of wood from the mizunara cask. Rich and sweet, the finish continues this slight bitterness and brings a hint of smokiness, as well.

Fifth-generation chief blender Shinji Fukuyo said: “Throughout the process of blending Yamazaki 55, I used as inspiration the passage of time and ‘wabi-sabi’ – the Japanese belief that imperfections can help to ultimately contribute to perfection.

“While I often view other extra-aged whiskies as art, I consider Yamazaki 55 to be more like a Buddhist statue: calm and mysterious, requiring time to truly enjoy the inner beauty.”

Though still extremely limited in quantities, the bottling will be rolled out in the UK, US, mainland China and Taiwan in the coming weeks, available to purchase at retailers including Harrods, The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt.

It will also be served in London venues The Arts Club, Annabel’s and Claridge’s.

For every bottle purchased, House of Suntory owner Beam Suntory will donate US$5,000 to The White Oak Initiative, a project dedicated to the conservation of white oak forests in the US.

In July of this year, Yamazaki revealed a reformulated recipe for its 25-year-old expression.

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