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Yuza Second Edition Single Malt Japanese Whisky 700ml (2022 Bottling)

by Yuza
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    Yuza Distillery was established in 2018 and to date has released just two single malts (The First Edition has already picked up Gold at the San Francisco International Spirits Challenge) and is well on the way to becoming one of the country’s newest cult distilleries.

    Sitting at the base of Mount Chōkai in the heart of Japan’s snow country, Yuza is the first Whisky distillery in the country’s Yamagata prefecture. Operational since November 2018, from day one, Masaharu Sasaki and his young team have drawn on the example laid down by Chichibu’s Ichiro Akuto, to perfect an authentic Japanese Whisky that could compete with the world’s best, while remaining true to their sense of monozukuri and producing Whiskies that are uniquely Yuza. It’s early in the piece and yet all the signs — not least the meticulous attention to detail and limited production — point to Yuza becoming one of the brightest stars in Japan’s Whisky firmament. Yuza sits on the flats near the Sea of Japan and enjoys an abundance of soft water from snowmelt and underground springs fed by the sponge-like crevices of lava of the nearby volcano. Chosen for this purity of water and access to the port for their specialised equipment, the area also experiences a massive 40°C average temperature difference over the year. This is projected to super-charge the maturation of the Whiskies in barrel; Masaharu Sasaki estimates eight years maturing in Scotland will equate to just five years in Yamagata.

    To hone their craft, the Yuza Distillery team partnered from the start with Forsyths, world leaders in distillation equipment. Yuza’s entire distillery team is fresh to Whisky but nurtured and overseen by the Scottish still-makers, providing an essential blank slate to be moulded to a completely new formula, key to Yuza’s dedication to an unfettered style. Facility equipment is centred around five Canadian Douglas Fir washbacks and two stills, including a Glendronach-inspired spirits still with an extended line arm, designed for more surface contact to give cleaner flavours with fewer sulphites.

    Dedicated only to Single Malt production, this small operation (the distillery covers just 620 square meters) has passed up the opportunity to release any ‘newborn’ expressions. The wash is currently 100% barley from Crisp Maltings with plans to eventually include a local option. Early bottlings point to a non-peated house style, but several heavily-peated batches have also been laid down. While Yuza’s barrel program remains secretive - even when touring the facility, you’ll find all the barrelheads are painted over - the early signs pointed to a preference for ex-Bourbon barrels. Now there is a portion of Sherry cask in the mix and Masaharu Sasaki has spoken of his desire to increase his inventory, picking up stock whenever he can.

    This cask strength Whisky was carefully selected from barrels from the first season at Yuza Distillery from February to July 2019. It’s estimated, that this selection could contain up to 80% ex-Sherry barrels. As distinct from the First Edition - a very bright expression raised in ex-Bourbon cask - the Second Edition was blended for more complexity, depth and luxurious flavour.

    This has a very old-world flavour profile (slightly reminiscent of top-shelf Speyside) and the alcohol sits in excellent balance with the complexity of the spirit. There’s a whisper of peat on the nose, with fragrant cereal notes before a progression towards deeper stone fruits and fig. It’s luscious and oily in the mouth, round and slightly earthy with spice and oat notes. It finishes dry with traces of liquorice and a mineral tang.

    The Finer Details
    Style - Japanese Whisky
    Country - Japan
    Bottle Size - 700ml
    ABV - 62%