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Suntory Whisky launches Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 edition

DBR Staff Writer Published 13 September 2017

The House of Suntory Whisky has released limited edition offering aged for 18 years exclusively in Japanese Mizunara Oak.

The Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 Edition will be available from October 2017. 

The Mizunara cask is considered to be a good expression of Tsukuriwake, an art of diversity in whisky making. The diversity can be found in grain types, fermentation, distillation and maturation techniques.

Blending with Mizunara cask began in the early 1940s and blenders at Suntory experimented in small casks. And, until the end of World War II, it became difficult to import wood, Suntory turned to Mizunara-based casks.

Suntory says that early on Mizunara posed some challenges to its blenders and cask-makers. It was not the rarity of the tree that posed the challenge, but Mizunara’s hard, permeable nature makes it hard.

The name Mizunara comes from the tree’s high moisture content. The permeable character is less than ideal for cask making, since, the liquid can easily seep through the wood. And being hard, it is difficult to shape the wood precisely to prevent leaks.

Suntory’s chief blender Shinji Fukuyo says that in order to achieve the true Mizunara taste, he has tasted a few hundred whiskies with varying ages, from 18 years and beyond. There is a small portion of whiskies which are older than 50 years.

He said: “I wanted to reveal the whisky’s soul that is the Art of Mizunara—a heightened sense and awakened palate engaged through aromas and flavors never known before. Encountering it should be a moment of epiphany.”

The Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 Edition has a 48% ABV (96 proof) and comes with a suggested retail price of $1000 for 750ml.

Image: Suntory releases new Yamazaki whisky aged in Mizunara oak. Photo: Courtesy of Beam Suntory Inc.