Yamazaki 2020 Edition is released, just not to the public

Suntory has released 5 component bottles as a new “Yamazaki 2020 Edition” series on November 4, but there’s a catch: they aren’t available at retail. Instead, you’ll need to head to a bar to find them. Some classic components like Puncheon and Mizunara return, and there are also some new faces.

Yamazaki 2020 Edition first came on to our radar back in September, when Suntory released information about the bottles.

While the bottles themselves have now been released, it looks like they aren’t available to the general public. Instead, as we’ve seen with the various ESSENCE of Suntory Whisky releases, the bottles are only available via wholesalers supplying the on-trade. And of course the absurdly overpriced secondary markets.

There isn’t an announcement at Suntory’s official Yamazaki page yet, and there may never be. In the meantime, let’s have a closer look at the bottles, based on the (probably leaked) materials provided by Suntory to wholesalers. All of these are NAS, by the way.

Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki Puncheon 2020 Edition

This one comes from short and stout 480L American oak puncheons that are coopered by Suntory themselves. Because of the low contact ratio of puncheons, maturity is slower, so Suntory says we can expect flavor closer to the original spirit.

Color: Bright yellow gold

Nose: Green apples, vanilla, acacia honey

Palate: Soft and mellow, butterscotch

Finish: Slight bitterness of oak and slight sweetness

700ml, 48% abv, 11,000 yen+tax

Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki Bordeaux Wine cask 2020 Edition

Wine casks add a smooth sweet and sour accent to Yamazaki. Suntory brings in French oak ex-wine casks and “rigorously” inspects them prior to using them for aging Yamazaki. If you like that particular aspect of Yamazaki, try this bottle — it’s a blend of whiskies aged solely in those wine casks.

Color: Amber with a tint of red

Nose: Berry fruit sweetness and spicy

Palate: Complex, rich, and thick

Finish: Sweet and sour, spiciness of French oak

700ml, 48% abv, 11,000 yen+tax

Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki Spanish OAK 2020 Edition

Compared to American oak, Spanish oak produces more tannins, leading to a more pronounced aromatic malt. Suntory sources their ex-Sherry casks–and they note that while ex-Sherry casks can be American or Spanish oak, Suntory chooses only the Spanish oak ones–are made from wood in the forests in the north of Spain. There’s a rich, concentrated sweetness and sourness going on.

Color: Red-hued dark amber

Nose: Raisin, dried tomato

Palate: Concentrated sweet and sourness

Finish: Lasting acidity and slight bitterness

700ml, 48% abv, 11,000 yen+tax

Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki Peated Malt 2020 Edition

The standard Yamazaki definitely offerings aren’t very peaty, but this bottle represents a chance to make it so. It’s made from only American oak barrels and hogsheads that contained the heavily peated component that makes up a very small portion of regular Yamazaki.

Color: Bright yellow gold

Nose: Smoky, peach

Palate: Softness, pineapple, smoked

Finish: Continuing aromatic peat

700ml, 48% abv, 11,000 yen+tax

Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki Mizunara 2020 Edition

Suntory pioneered the use of mizunara oak for maturing whisky out of necessity, as mid/post-WW2 Japan couldn’t import wood from abroad. It’s notoriously difficult to work with, but Suntory seems to have figured it out. Today mizunara oak is one of the hallmarks of Japanese whisky, and it’s usually described as sandalwood and aloes-wood aromas.

Color: Amber

Nose: Bright top notes, custard cream, cinnamon

Palate: Soft on the tongue, highly aromatic, dense sweetness

Finish: Memorable Japanese incense

700ml, 48% abv, 30,000 yen+tax



  1. Josh Clearihan

    Hi Richard,

    My name is Josh, I live in Melbourne Australia. Hope you are doing well in Japan.
    I was hoping you could give me some information on how to become a Suntory or Yamazaki member for special releases and invitations etc
    Can you provide me any info on how to achieve this?

    Many thanks


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