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LEXICON: From Yamazaki to 'Yoichi'

This page is reserved for whisky words, phrases and brands starting with either
X, Y or Z. During my research for the first edition of the Whisky Lexicon I could
not actually find any entries starting with ‘X’ or ‘Z’, so we’re left with just ‘Y’ entries.
And even then I could only come up with only five entries. Please let me know if
you noticed something I missed - or just browse on to the other sections of MM.


The Yamazaki distillery was the first Japanese distillery, founded in 1923.
A year can refer to a particular calendar year or a period of 365 days.
Modest little yeast cells are crucial to kick off production of alcohol.
The abbreviation ‘yo’ means ‘years old’ in the age statement of a whisky.
Yoichi is a brand of Japanese whisky, owned by the Nikka company.


Yamazaki Japanese whisky

The Yamazaki distillery in the Osaka prefecture of Japan opened its doors in 1923.
It was founded by Shinjiro Torii - one of the two ‘fathers’ of Japanese whisky. Shinjiro was
also the founder of the company Kotobukiya - which would become Suntory later on.
Yamazaki was the first (commercial) distillery in Japan and its success can be largely
attributed to Masataka Taketsuru, who had studied whisky distillation in Scotland.

Shinjiro Torii hired Masataka Taketsuru to run Yamazaki - which he did until 1934.
Masataka guided the Yamazaki distillery through its first decade before striking out
on his own to found the company Dainipponkaju - which would turn into Nikka.

An old Asian martial arts film I once watched featured the line “And so the student
has surpassed the master...”
. By the end of the noughties, this line could be applied
to the whisky world as well. Due to corporate policies of at least a decade earlier, the
Scotch whisky industry had a hard time maintaining the quality that people had come
to expect from Scotch malt whisky. At the same time, Japanese whisky broke records.

Japanese whiskies have always been difficult to find in Europe - and if you manage
to find a bottle you’ll often have to pay dearly for it. Nevertheless, the three ‘standard’
expressions from Yamazaki (12yo, 18yo and 25yo) can be found relatively easily.
There’s not always a direct relation between price and quality, but the fact that a
25yo Yamazaki from Master of Malt had a €1,571.74 price tag says something...

Mind you - if you’re paying that much for a bottle of whisky you probably a bit of a are a wanker...


The age of many Scotch whiskies is defined in years - i.e. the number of vears a whisky has spent inside
a cask. So, whiskies with age statements like 12 years old, 15yo and 18yo are quite common. However,
a year can also refer to a particular calendar year or vintage. Knowing in what year a whisky was distilled
or bottled can give you valuable information. For example, many of the younger releases from Bowmore
displayed an unpleasant FWP trait around the year 2000, so those were best avoided...


Technically speaking, yeast is a type of fungus. There are well over a thousand different strains and
some have been used for centuries in the production of food and drink. By the end of the 18th century, the
most commonly used yeast strains in brewing were Saccharomyces cerevisiae (a.k.a. top-fermenting yeast)
and Saccharomyces carlsbergensis (bottom-fermenting yeast).


The Japanese whisky industry developed quite differently from those in Scotland and Ireland.
As a result, the relation between brands and distilleries can be confusing for Western audiences.
Things are quite straightforward when it comes to Yoichi though. The Yoichi jōryūsho brand is produced
at the distillery by the same name - which is located in the town of Yoichi in the Yoichi region.

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YO / Years Old

The age statement found on many bottles of Scotch whiskies specifies the minimum number of years that
the youngest whisky in the bottle has spent maturing in one or more casks. The age on a bottle of Scotch
whisky is usually defined in years - and the bottle may or may not contain some older whisky. This was
actually not uncommon during the 1990s when stocks were abundant, but these days the main focus of
most malt whisky producers is on maximising profits. Even though most bottlings are still vattings of whisky
from multiple casks, those casks were mostly produced in the same vintage these days. Knowing in which
year a whisky was distilled can be useful. For example, many of the younger releases from Bowmore
displayed an unpleasant FWP trait around the year 2000, so those were best avoided...

(* The old technology used for Malt Madness doesn’t allow me to present the information in the most user-friendly
way possible. Check out my new personal website for a fresh attempt at a site, covering a wider range of topics.

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