Where it all began, Yamazaki is located on the road that joins Osaka and Kyoto, which proved to be a shrewd commercial decision, giving them access to two ports. The distillery has been rebuilt three times since its inception in 1923, most recently in 2005, when a change in style was enacted. As there are only four malt plants in Japan owned by Suntory and Nikka (who don’t share), the different styles required for blending need to be produced in-house. At Yamazaki, they produce low to medium level peated whiskies, grouped into three styles: medium, heavy and heavy peated styles. Ageing takes place in five different types of casks: sherry (American and European), ex-Bourbon, new and Japanese oak (mizunara.) Each age statement whisky is completed different; 18 year old isn’t just six years older than 12 year old, it is made up of completely different whiskies, which are married together and aged for six months prior to bottling. Despite the diversity, the unifying quality of Yamazaki is the depth of flavour on the mid-palate, and the round fruit character that develops there. The 12 year old is sweet, almost syrupy with a hint of vanilla and a light smoke. The 18 year old has fully sherry notes, with walnut and damson clinging to the palate with sweet oak.