Whisky Advocate Award: Japanese Whisky of the YearDecember 15th, 2013
Yoichi 1988 single cask, 62%, $250
Yoichi is a distillery which has great resonance for those of us who have followed the remarkable arrival of Japanese whisky into the world. It was this distillery, after all, which did the equivalent of Stags Leap Cabernet at the famous Judgment of Paris, when the iconic Napa wine beat the great Bordeaux blends. Yoichi did the same in Edinburgh in a blind tasting, beating the greatest Scotch single malts. The world, as they say, would never quite be the same again. There have been plenty of good Yoichis since then, but none, in my opinion, as great as this which, in a neat enough parallel, I tasted first in Paris.
Though aged in virgin American oak, it’s distillery character that is in charge here. Rich, mysterious, layered, mixing rich fruit compote with scented coastal smoke: ozone, tar, and soot, alongside masses of vetiver and cigar humidor. The palate is oily and immense, with fluxing layers of sweet fruit, oily peat, salt, and ink; camphor, flax seed, and, in among the smoke, apple mint. In other words, here’s complexity and here, in spades, is what defines Yoichi.
I know… it will have been gone by now, and if you can get a bottle you’ll have to pay, but it would be wrong to pass over a whisky this great. Hopefully in 2014 the U.S. will get a single cask of equal quality. —Dave Broom
We’ll see you here tomorrow for the World Whisky Award.