Suntory Is Releasing Tsukuriwake Selection, a Group of Rare Japanese Single Malt Whiskies

Suntory Japanese Single Malt Whiskies on pedestals
Courtesy of House of Suntory

Legendary Japanese whisky house Suntory is debuting a collection of limited-edition whiskies from its famed Yamazaki Distillery in the U.S. for the first time next month. The 2022 Yamazaki Tsukuriwake Selection is the first of its kind for the United States: a collection of four one-off bottles—Puncheon, Peated Malt, Spanish Oak, and Mizunara—each with a different style and flavor profile.

Tsukuriwake, which means “artisanship through a diversity of making,” has long been a pillar concept for Tamazaki and Suntory as a whole, and these four whiskies focus on that diversity of product, highlighting the parts rather than the sum of the whole this time.

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Each of the four releases highlights an essential ingredient in Suntory’s spice rack of whisky flavors. Most of them appear as smaller portions of the final Yamazaki whisky recipes, so you get to taste them as stand-alone products in a unique experience only a handful of people have previously had.

Puncheon refers to the puncheon barrels used to age large volumes of Yamazaki. These American oak casks are essentially rebuilt bourbon barrels. They use the component staves of bourbon barrels, which hold more than twice what barrels do—about 480 liters compared to 200 liters or 53 gallons.

Peated Malt is whisky distilled of heavily peated barely, which is normally used in smaller volumes to accent Yamazaki whiskies.

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Spanish Oak normally is used to add depth and fruit notes to whisky. Because the casks are from Northern Spain, they add acidity and fruity aromas to the Yamazaki you already know and love.

And Mizunara uses native Japanese oak—a species that’s rare and slow-growing, which adds incense-like sandalwood and other spice flavors to whisky aged in its barrels.

Yamazaki has been a relatively busy brand over the last year or so. The distillery has debuted a record-age 55-year-old limited edition and also reformulated the popular 25-year single malt from their core portfolio.

Yamazaki is potentially ramping up the new product production because the brand’s centennial is just a year away. The Yamazaki brand was ostensibly founded in 1923 when the legendary Shinjiro Torii built Japan’s first malt distillery in Osaka.

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Of course, innovation and new releases are only important if people can taste the stuff, and with Yamazaki 12 Year already on strict allocation and selling above its suggested retail price online, there wasn’t much to be excited about until this latest news. It may be a competitive hunt, but at least there are new products in the realm of affordability.

All four rare whiskies are bottled at 48 percent ABV. Three of them have a suggested retail price of $450, while the Mizunara bottle carries a $620 tag, but given taxes and the already-inflated cost of getting your hands on a bottle of Yamazaki, we suspect you could be seeing much higher numbers in stores.

The whiskies will be on sale within the next couple of weeks; keep an eye out around you.

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