Yamazaki Puncheon 2022 Edition – Tasting Notes & Review

Yamazaki is one of my favorite distilleries and, judging by the different variety of bottlings, their branching out is a sign that it’s a favorite of many another scotch addict. The Yamazaki Puncheon 2022 Edition is part of the Tsukuriwake Selection, which is a limited edition line up of four whiskies:
– Puncheon
– Peated Malt
– Spanish Oak, and,
– Mizunara

The term “puncheon” is an old term for a barrel with 480 liters of liquid, which is approximately twice the size of a typical wine barrel. I’ve been to wineries that still age their wine in massive barrels (I’ve seen tuns before, and they’re enormous!) and some of them are huge. A puncheon is about a third of a tun.

The Yamazaki Puncheon is matured in American oak puncheons and has a really light gold color. Not grassy yellow, it definitely has the gold hue. Very light in color but not in flavor.

The nose has a hint of the tartness of a granny smith apple with some sweet vanilla.

On the palate, you get a very distinct butterscotch note along with more vanilla and soft sweetness of honey.

The finish is long with the vanilla really lingering with the heat of the alcohol. It certainly has the body of 48% abv but it’s not so much that it overpowers the subtle flavors.

I found the dram to be absolutely delicious. And I was sent this sample from a PR firm so I knew I did not have enough of it. I was surprised, but also not surprised, at the price tag. I found it on some secondary sellers for around $4,000.

Is it worth $4,000? I don’t know. It’s way out of my budget but I do know that it’s a pretty amazing dram.

The Glenlivet 12 – Double Oak Tasting Notes & Review

I’ve long been a fan of The Glenlivet ever since I first started enjoying whisky. There’s something about the approachability of Glenlivet, from a cost and flavor perspective, that really invites you to join in.

I still remember the first time I had the regular expression of Glenlivet 12 (back in the day, before they added the Double Oak to the label) because of the spicy bite on the finish. I thought it was the alcohol (part of it was) but a lot of it was just its personality coming through. It was fun to revisit it in its new(ish) form.

The Glenlivet 12 Double Oak is now the regular expression of the 12 year old – it’s matured in European and American Oak casks. It’s all the same familiar flavors, scents, and finishes from what you expect from the 12 year old.

The color is a rich gold color with a nose of tropical fruits – very fresh and airy. It doesn’t feel heavy on the nose. On the tongue you get much of the same, stone fruit, with the vanilla I’ve come to identify with Glenlivet 12. The finish has a bit of a body to it, the nuts you associated with winter desserts like hazelnut.

I didn’t get any bite at the end and I’m not sure if it’s because my palate has “evolved” a bit as I’ve aged or if it has been intentionally muted.

You can usually find a bottle of this in the $70 range and it’s one that I think anyone can enjoy. If you have a friend who is just getting into whisky, this is a nice standard one to welcome them with.

Does the Glass Matter in Whisky?

Glencairn, Norlan, NEAT, tumbler... does glassware matter in drinking whisky?The glass you use matters but I don’t let it define my whisky experience.

I’m a relative novice when it comes to enjoying whisky. I very much enjoy the flavors but I don’t sit there savoring every last drop every single time I drink it.

It’s like music. Sometimes I like listening to the beat, sometimes I want to hear the words, and sometimes I just want to vibe with the general mood and not get too into it.

For the longest time, people drank whisky from any old glass because it meant whisky was getting into your body. There are debates over which is the best glass for scotch whisky but personally I think there are a few that honestly are different and worth looking at.

The rest is all fluff.

Personally, I usually use one of two glasses – a Glencairn or the NEAT whisky glass. I’ll explain why, plus a nod towards a new entrant to the market, and then I want to hear your opinion.

Glencairn Glass

Besides a regular tumbler, which everyone knows about and needs no clarification, the tulip-bulb shaped Glencairn is probably the most popular glass. The Glencairn was designed to be like the nosing glasses used in distiller labs, when the professionals are nosing their work to check for quality and consistency. The shape is meant to intensify the nose on the whisky, which for novices can singe. 🙂

Personally, I like these glasses because of the intensity. Since they’re so popular, they’re also relatively inexpensive. A pair will run under $15.

NEAT Whiskey Glass

I was sent a few NEAT glasses to give them a try several years ago and they really are kind of neat. I nosed the same dram in a Glencairn and in the NEAT and the NEAT delivered on its promise that it evaporated ethanol vapors and bring out the other aromas in a whisky.

The shape isn’t unique but they’re more pronounced – it’s a tulip shape but more exagerated. The top tapers in more and the base is wider, which will allow you to swirl it a bit to wake up the spirit. It’s a fun glass to drink but near the end of a dram it does feel weird since you have to tip the glass nearly vertically for the last of the spirit to escape!

The NEAT glass is also affordably priced at under $20 for a pair.

Norlan Glass

In recent years, there have been several whisky glass makers who have claimed whisky is tastier in their glass. The most recent, as of late 2017, is the Norlan Whisky Glass. I’ve personally never used it but there’s no debating how nice the glass looks.

As for the design, it was “digitally crafted” with help from distiller Jim McEwan (formerly of Bruichladdich). It’s double-walled tumbler design with curves meant to simplify the drinking experience and aerate the whisky, to reduce ethanol vapors and lower the need to add water.

The only knock against the glass is that a pair will set you back $48.

What do you think? Does the glass matter to you?

Hot Toddy Cold Remedy Recipe

Colds suck.

Whiskey does not. So when I learned that a “hot toddy” might be the cure for the common cold… well OF COURSE I had to test it out. (yes yes, we realize this won’t cure anything… but it will alleviate your symptoms!)

A hot toddy is what it sounds like, it’s a mixture of whiskey, hot water, and honey. You can use other dark liquors too, like rum or brandy, but since we have whiskey on hand we might as well use our favorite… right? 🙂

You can add other aromatics, like cinnamon, cloves, a slice of lemon, or others; and you can swap out tea for the hot water. It basically sounds like other home cure remedies for colds, except with a shot of whiskey.

Here’s a little factoid that might put a smile on your face… it’s called a “hot whiskey” in Ireland and the “toddy” comes from a drink made in India. A toddy is made by fermenting the sap of palm trees!

The recipe itself is very simple:

  • 1 oz. of whiskey
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • 1/4 cup of hot water

Pour the whiskey and honey into a mug then fill with a 1/4 cup of water, dissolving the honey into the mixture. You can add a few teaspoons of lemon or replace the water with a nice hot tea. Avoid the flavored teas as it’ll confuse your palate, but your favorite tea should suffice.


My Thoughts on Accelerated/Speed Whiskey Aging

When I moved into my first apartment, I bought most of my furniture from a nearby IKEA. IKEA makes great furniture as long as you never have to move it! My general rule is that if the furniture as moving parts, like drawers, then it’ll survive one move. If you try to move it again, it’s going to fall apart unless you reinforce it with some extra hardware.

The furniture works great though, it’s just not going to last forever. It has it’s role to play and does it just fine.

That’s how I feel about this whole new accelerated aging talk. I’d heard about Cleveland Whiskey and their “disruptive technology” before but it re-entered my mind when I read this article on accelerated whiskey aging on The Whiskey Wash.

I won’t go into the science but my feeling on this is that:

  1. The technology is cool but just like my thoughts on IKEA furniture, speed aging has its place. I don’t believe it’ll be as good as the old school methods but I don’t think it should be compared to old school methods.
  2. Legislation needs to be introduced so that labels are accurate. I want to know it’s been speed aged/
  3. It’ll be fun to see what adventurous mixtures they come up with!
  4. I know there’s a heavy dose of marketing and business involved in all of this. Speed aging will be cheaper than storing barrels for many years. It’ll also help satiate some demand,
    which might mean the older stuff isn’t as expensive!
  5. It’ll never replace the traditional methods. I’m not worried about that…

I’m not an old curmudgeon who thinks the old way is always the best way. But it might be. 🙂

I’m not clamoring to get a speed aged whiskey just because it’s a cool technology.

I will welcome new flavor combinations and profiles because it’ll only make the enjoyment of whiskey more fun!

Here’s what some folks in the Facebook had to say about it:

  • Joel A. – Interesting stuff
  • Wayne B. – I wouldn’t waste a nickel on it…no clone or android whisky for me ????. … To buy it is to render support to it. I think it’s well-established – the right to buy of one’s own choosing…and to each his own opinion. The more NAS & android whisky bought and consumed, the dumber the palate and it encourages more of same to be produced.
  • Nathan L. – The worst whiskey I’ve had by far was from Cleveland with the “accelerated aging” BS. Worse than the Hudson Baby Bourbon…..
  • Bill B. – You may be able to mimic to an extent, but there’s no way to mimic the effect of years of aging and mellowing in a barrel.
  • Bruce B. – This is similar in nature to what has ruined fine vinegars. Ignorant consumers are responsible for much by accepting crap because it’s cheaper. Gmo veggies that look pretty with longer shelf lives that are less flavorful and less nutritious… people are idiots. Look at the average tomato: very pretty, very uniformly red, and yet has so much less flavor. I refuse to buy them. I buy heirlooms.
  • Joseph L. – Go to the grocer’s and get a bottle of Liquid Smoke. Add a few drops to a young scotch and there you go!

What do you think?