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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Summer Suntory Releases

Having just returned from Islay, where the daytime mist and drizzle meant that a waxed jacket and cap provided perfect cover for the country walks, I find myself back in London, where the temperature is nearly 30 degrees. I'm laden with a case, several bags and of course, various bottles, which I picked up on Islay including the Lagavulin Distillery Only bottling. If you are over on the island, make a beeline for the distillery and pick one up, whilst they have some is well worth it.

This was the view before the rain decided to return...

Returning to London on the tube with luggage and a waxed coat in sweltering summer temperatures is one of my pet hates, especially that uncomfortable feeling of a slightly sweaty back. It is made all the worse when coupled with very precarious paper carrier bag handles, which threaten to give way at any moment on a packed tube carriage, emptying your precious whiskies out onto the floor.

Despite delays and my blood boiling over, I managed to get home, bag intact, but needing a shower... and almost certainly a big drink.

When we're lucky enough to be blessed with hot weather in the UK, to enjoy whisky in a Mizuwari style or as a highball is certainly the sophisticated way to unwind and Yamazaki 12yo, Hibiki 12yo or a light and fruity Hakushu work a treat. So I whipped one up, using plenty of Yamazaki 12, ice, topped up with soda, with a nice-sized piece of lemon zest thrown in for good measure.

Suntory have recently released 2 new Bourbon Barrel expressions, in time for the UK summer market. whiskies are non-aged, but are matured in fresh, first fill bourbon casks to heighten the sweet, fruity flavours. Around 3,000 bottles will be available across Europe of each expression priced at £69.99. We reviewed the Hakushu earlier on in the year, (which you can read here) and recently got a sample of the Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel release. On initial nosing, both whiskies are very similar - layers of sweet, candied fruit, but here are our more detailed thoughts....

Yamazaki - Bourbon Barrel - limited release bottling - 48.2% - NAS

Nose: Immediate hints of vanilla, white chocolate, heather honey and toffee apple. Given time in the glass, a drier note comes through, something similar to Yamazaki 12yo. Notes of light wax polish and lavender follow, with a touch of water.

Palate: Very sweet, with more white chocolate, coconut macaroons, vanilla sponge cake, carnation milk and a hint of strawberry jam.

Finish: Lingering creamy notes and a drying flavour, reminiscent of dessicated coconut and a touch of spice.

Overall: A hugely enjoyable dram. Sweet and fruity with layers of creaminess, which linger on the palate. If you fancied a rather luxurious Mizuwari, you could use this, but it's such a nice sipper, a couple of blocks of ice or a dash of water will work perfectly for a great summer's day dram.