Whisky Review: Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Selection Peated Malt

, | March 7, 2023

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The House of Suntory last year introduced a limited edition series for their heralded Yamazaki Japanese whisky. Touted as the Founding House of Japanese Whisky, Suntory is becoming a monolith in the whisky world. My first introduction to the brand happened while watching Lost in Translation, when Bill Murray’s character says the famous line, “for relaxing times, make it Suntory times.”

The bottle he is featuring is the now discontinued Suntory Hibiki 17 year. Although Hibiki is potentially the more commonly known whisky by Suntory, the Yamazaki is potentially the more historically critical one for fans of Japanese whisky.

Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky launched in 1984, although its roots date back to 1923 with Shinjiro Torii and Japan’s first malt distillery in Yamazaki, Shimamoto Mishima District, Osaka, Japan. Since its introduction, the Yamazaki whisky has grown into an international favorite. In many states the 12-year-old has become allocated and no longer sits on shelves.

For myself, I am a fan of this whisky and find its flavor profile reminiscent of a fine Scotch, albeit accented with a greater floral profile. I am passingly familiar with most releases from Suntory. But, I will admit, outside of the Kacho Fugetsu (21 year Hibiki for reference), I am unfamiliar with the limited edition releases from Suntory.

House of Suntory, in explaining the purpose behind this release noted that “what excited me most about this launch is that just one year before the 100th anniversary of Suntory Whisky, we can finally share the full story behind our Tsukuriwake way of whisky making, which was born from the Founding House of Japanese Whisky,” says Suntory’s Fifth-Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo. “The 2022 Yamazaki Limited Edition Tsukuriwake Selection honors the fact that greatness comes from diversity. And in doing so, we unveil what truly makes Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky the authority of Japanese Whisky.”

Tsukuriwake means “artisanship through a diversity of making.” Japanese whisky is heralded for the absolute artistry their master blenders bring to the category. What may not be as appreciated is how thorough the distillery is when crafting the whiskey to be blended. The House of Suntory’s Tsukuriwake in Yamazaki prides itself in multiple types of non-peated and peated grain varieties, two types of wash backs, eight pairs with various pot stills and maturation in four different oak casks (French, Spanish, Japanese and American), with three cask size differences in American Oak.

This series has four different examples of the masterfully crafted whisky which is blended into the Yamazaki Single Malt we enjoy: Puncheon, Peated Malt, Spanish Oak, Mizunara.

We will focus on the Peated Malt for the purposes of this review. Considered the “hidden accent” imparting complexity and the lingering finish, the Peated Malt is comprised of heavily peated malted barley. For those who are unfamiliar, the process of burning peat moss to create heat and smoke, which dries the malted grain, is what gives Scotch the “smoky” flavor.

Peat, traditionally used in Scotch, is found in Western Europe. I am uncertain where Suntory sources their peat moss, but my guess is western Europe. The distillery describes the nose as subtly smoky with green herbal notes. The taste as gently peated, with hints of earthiness giving way to a complex and lingering finish.

Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Selection Peated Malt review

We review Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Selection Peated Malt, part of a special series from House of Suntory’s Yamazaki Japanese whiskies. (image via Suntory)

Tasting Notes: Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Selection Peated Malt

Vital Stats: The suggested retail price is $450, ABV of 48%.

Appearance: Old gold

Nose: Immediately fills the space with decadent peat smoke. Soft and clean with a hint of brine.

Taste: It is a buttery mouthfeel. My first impression is sea salt and ocean mist before soft oak campfire smoke cuts through the mist. It is earthy and vibrant. It tastes like a coastal pine forest smells. Which is a weird description, but this whisky is just lovely.

The finish is extremely well rounded and flows naturally from the nose through the taste. At first, I was disappointed by its brevity, however, breathing through the mouth replenishes the finish. It’s like blowing on coals in a campfire. The new oxygen reinvigorates the finish, and it sits beautifully on your tongue, warming the mouth.

Whisky Review: Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Selection Peated Malt


This was the final whiskey I tried in this series. I saved it for last because, to be honest, I’m not a fan of peat. If peated whiskies tasted like this, I might be a bigger fan of peat. It doesn’t necessarily show off the great complexity of the grains or mash bill here. What this whisky does is show off the power of peat smoke and what how robust this single flavor can be.

It is a very complex aroma and I was blown away by the sophistication this whisky possessed.

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Charles Steele

Charles Steele is a Portland area attorney, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His legal education affords him an analytical approach to understanding whiskey and other aged spirits. Traditionally a legal writer, freelancing for The Whiskey Wash will prove a unique opportunity to flex his writing skills. Although he...