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Blue Label vs Yamazaki 12: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Johnny Walker Blue Label vs Yamazaki 12 in this in-depth comparison and decide which Whisky is better for You!

Johnny Walker Blue Label

johnnie-walker-blue-label
NoseOak, dried fruits, berries, citrus
PalateCaramel, smoke, chocolate, malt
FinishMedium, light smoke, dried fruit
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toBlack Label, Gold Label, Glenlivet 18

According to Johnnie Walker only 1 in 10,000 casks is selected to be part of the blend.

It makes me think that Johnnie Walker must have a zillion casks in storage as the Blue Label is everywhere to be found as every duty free store in the world carries a generous stock.

The nose offers oak at first, followed by a light smoky note. There are hints of berries and citrus coming behind.

On the palate, the Blue Label feels creamy, rich in caramel up-front, followed by a malty flavor and a hint of chocolate. There is a bit of smoke making it incredibly rewarding.

The finish has a solid length, light in oak and smoke with a rich dried fruit note.

I would summarize the Blue Label by saying “smooth, smoky and delicious”.

This whisky is incredibly smooth yet quite flavorful with more peat than I was expecting but still just a hint and nothing off-putting for those who are not into peaty whisky.

The Blue Label is remarkably gentle on the palate, very smooth, slightly sweet with smoky cigar-like aftertaste. It does not burn as it goes down easy and nicely while making the best Johnnie Walker Scotch.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Blue Label:

  • This whisky is not a Single Malt Scotch but a blend of malt and grain whiskies crafted at various distilleries across Scotland.
  • It does not have an age statement.

Yamazaki 12 Year

yamazaki-12
NoseVanilla, sherry, oak, smoke
PalateRipe fruit, sherry, pear, oak
FinishMedium, mint, oak
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toRoyal Salute 21, Macallan 12

Not only Scotland crafts Single Malt Whisky as Japan also delivers this type of whisky following producing methods that are quite similar.

Yamazaki is aged for a dozen years using a combination of ex-Bourbon barrels, Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks and Japanese Mizunara Oak barrels.

Mizunara trees take at least 200 years to reach maturity before they can be chopped down and turned into casks.

Yamazaki is light on the nose, with hints of vanilla, sherry, oak and just a tiny whiff of smoke.

On the palate it provides a good mouthfeel as it feels creamy and smooth. Flavor hits with ripe fruit and pear and first, followed by a note of sherry and a tad of toasty oak.

The finish lacks a bit in length, leaving a minty aftertaste and subtle oak.

Yamazaki 12 is a good overly smooth malt, with no heat or harsh notes. Provides a nice fruity flavor, but lacks in the memorable taste that you expect from a whisky at this price point.

Definitely not bad but I can think of a dozen better whiskies or bourbons that I can buy at this price point making me pass on the Yamazaki 12.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Yamazaki 12:

  • The Yamazaki distillery was founded in 1923 and is located in Shimamoto. This was the first whisky distillery established in Japan.
  • Earned the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2009 and 2013.

Blue Label vs Yamazaki 12: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskyPrice
Johnny Walker Blue Label$200
Yamazaki 12 Year$190

Blue Label vs Yamazaki 12: Which is better?

The Blue Label is a more tasty whisky

WhiskeyBlue LabelYamazaki 12
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • The Blue Label is a not a single malt but a blend of several whiskies, does not have an age statement and has a low proof but its delicious chocolate and light peaty notes make up for its shortcomings.
  • The Johnnie Walker Blue Label drinks nicely and smooth and is something that you should drink at least once before you die.
  • The Yamazaki 12 is not bad but not for its current price as there are several better 12 year malts that taste better and are more affordable.

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