It’s been hard to put the sleeping dragon to the back of my mind, not knowing when it will awake from it’s slumber in the land of the rising sun and descend on Europe; I am speaking of course about the 2016 bottling of Suntory’s Yamazaki Sherry Cask. For anybody who isn’t currently aware of the situation, allow me to kick you in the testicles and crush your glimmer of hope quicker than you can get excited about it…
(Naturally, I’m a little butthurt about this situation and extremely jealous of anyone who manages to get a bottle).
The Yamazaki distillery has produced 5,000 bottles of the sherry cask for 2016, with a relatively generous 2,000 bottles making their way to Europe to be divvied out between 10 cities, one of which is London. Now for the painful part…
198 bottles will make it to London. Three high end retailers(Harvey Nichols, Harrods, and Selfridges) will receive a share, all of which have been allocated to their VIP customers. The remaining bottles will be going to specialist whisky merchants, of which a proportion will be sold on a lottery basis and some on an auction basis. So basically, there will likely be around 50 bottles up for grabs for your average enthusiast. So sit back and enjoy a nice glass of your own tears, or even better, pour yourself a dram of one of the amazing whiskies that are easily available, such as the Bruichladdich Micro Provenance Cask #543.
With all the hype surrounding whiskies like the Yamazaki, it is important not to forget what is waiting around the corner to be crowned the next best whisky, or what is sat on your doorstep begging for you to try it. I purchased this bottle as an accompaniment for a late Burns supper in Edinburgh with a few friends. The perfect location for what would turn out to be a perfect dram. I didn’t like this whisky, I bloody loved it.
First of all, a little bit about the whisky. Distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015, this Bruichladdich has spent its full term in a port cask in Bruichladdich’s cellars on Islay.
Upon removing the cork, I began to pour myself a dram; the 60.1% ruby liquid crept down the frosted glass of the bottle, releasing the most intoxicating aroma, reminiscent of liquor laced Christmas pudding being set alight. Deep red in colour, seemingly rather viscous leaving slow legs on the inside of the glass.
On the nose, this is not a delicate nor subtle dram, it is a Frankenstein’s monster of sweet jam and soft preserved fruits enveloped in aromatic spices, and as expected accompanied by a generous hit of alcohol which wonderfully carries with it the rich salt beaten oak aroma that you only usually experienced in Islay cask cellars.
On the palate, if I’m honest the alcohol was a little overpowering at its full strength and needed a few drops of mineral water to open it up, and my God did it open up. There is a fair bit of oak char to begin with along with burnt toast and black pepper leading on to an almighty medley of preserved soft fruits.
This luscious, viscous, ruby-red liquid is made for winter nights by the fire. Bruichladdich have only produced 250 bottles of the #543 cask, and hasn’t received much critique as of yet, this is likely due to the sheer number of expressions that Bruichladdich release each year making it very easy for amazing whisky to fall through the cracks.
Remarkably, this whisky is still available on the Bruichladdich online shop at £90.