Following the Maverick-spirited initiative courtesy of Glenfiddich recently, the Speyside distillery wasted no time unveiling a new addition to their esteemed Grand Series collection just a week after. Nurtured amidst the quaint meadows of Dufftown, the 29-years Grand Yozakura is a limited-edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky infused with Japanese essence, a first-ever for the brand to create a spirit that is finished in rare ex-Awamori casks.
Awamori, Japan’s oldest distilled alcoholic spirit, is made from long grain indica rice aged in clay pots before maturing in oak casks. This traditional Japanese spirit delights the senses with a myriad of flavours, often featuring hints of tropical fruits like pineapple and mango, complemented by subtle floral notes. Its ageing process in clay pots and oak casks imparts a remarkable smoothness and depth, bringing forth zesty herbal nuances, which set it apart from other spirits in the whiskey world. Awamori’s unique marriage of rice-based sweetness and intricate herbal layers creates a sensory journey that is both refreshing and complex, making it a truly exceptional and cherished drink in the world of spirits.
With these floral notes infused into the Grand Yozakura, it subtly draws parallel to the Hanami festival, a Japanese tradition that commemorates the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms. Synonymous with the spirit of renewal and optimism, the magic of the festival is accentuated after dark, better known as Yozakura or ‘night sakura’.
The Grand Yozakura was unveiled at the Glenfiddich Dreamscape Banquet alongside a tasting of other prestigious whiskies from the Grand Series. The launch was graced and hosted by Ross Blainey, the Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador for Australia & New Zealand who has more than a decade of experience in the liquor industry, with qualifications across the whisky category including the prestigious General Certificate of Distillation. Or in short, this is a man who truly knows his whiskies.
I had the great pleasure of embarking on a sensorial journey, pairing 3 exquisite whiskies from the Grand Series with a three-course Japanese dinner that celebrated the Hanami & Yozakura themes. Curated by Chef James Won of SHIN’LABO, the evening unfolded as a celebration of flavour and aroma.
As its name signifies, this collection proudly represents the apex of Glenfiddich’s legacy. Beginning with the 26-years Grande Couronne, this French cognac cask-finished spirit boasts a rich and regal profile, concluded with a somewhat overpowering dry and spicy finish. However, the initial notes were overflowing with warm toasty & buttery oak sweetness that were quite delectable.
The journey continued with the 23-year Grand Cru, an exceptional liquid touched by the elegance of French cuvée casks, presenting a delicate sourness derived from the higher acidity and lower pH notes of cuvée sparkling wine.
And last but not least, my personal favourite amongst the three, the 22-year Gran Cortes finished in casks more revered and mysterious than any others in the wine-making world – the sherry casks known as ‘Palo Cortado’. This whisky carries a distinctive deep red hue, delivering a combination of dates, dark chocolate and raisins on the nose, complemented by a refined nutty taste profile that caresses the palate ever so gently.
Chef James Won’s culinary artistry perfectly encapsulated the essence of Grand Yozakura and Hanami, staging a gastronomic spectacle that featured exquisite ingredients such as Tyee Salmon & Tobiko. The Glenfiddich Dreamscape Banquet was indeed a spectacle that could be cherished a thousand times over, where exceptional food and whisky joined in harmony to create a truly unforgettable evening.