Japan

Hakushu 12 Years Old (43%, OB, 2018)

Hakushu 12 Years Old

Whisky Review

  • ABV: 43%
  • Age: 12 Years Old
  • Bottling: OB
  • Category: Japanese single malt whisky
  • Cost: £149.95 from Royal Mile Whiskies
  • Origin: Hakushu distillery
  • Vintage: undeclared

hakushu-12-year-old-whisky

What they say

From Suntory’s mountain forest distillery, nestled deep in Mt. Kaikomagatake, Suntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu is the fresh and gently smoky single malt whisky with herbal notes that is the revelation of Japanese single malts.

Straight from the untouched forests, soft and crisp waters and mountains of the Southern Japanese Alps, it is no wonder that Hakushu is a “green and fresh” whisky.Created by the dream for a new type of whisky of Keizo Saji, the second master blender, the unique taste made in distinct Four seasons in high altitude is praised by the most curious whisky connoisseurs and lovers of gastronomy. Its crisp and vibrant feel, unique in a single malt whisky, enlivens and liberates your senses.

Official tasting notes:

  • Color: Champagne gold
  • Nose: Basil, pine needle, green apple
  • Palate: Sweet pear, mint, kiwi
  • Finish: Green tea, subtle smoke

What I say

A revisit to Hakushu’s previous entry level 12 Years Old, unavailable now since around 2018. Bottles used to retail at sensible prices (~ £75) but most left are going for £150+ (most retailers with stock price at £175 currently in the UK). Last sampled on numerous occasions in 2014 this is some of the final ‘new’ stock that arrived in the UK so bottled around 2018. I’d be interested to see how prices evolve if/when this expression from Suntory finally returns to global distribution.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: White wine gold (8/20), slow, medium tears leave fine legs.
  • Nose: Initially quite smoky, but dry cedarwood smoke, sweet, light syrups and honeys, almond and cashew nuts, fresh, grassy and slightly sappy, dried pine needle, grassy/hay and green apples, a little creamy later.
  • Taste: Fruit initially, but neutral-sweet, sugared green apple, a hint of kiwi, plum and green pear, toast, biscuit cereal, gentle light oak woodiness, sandalwood, floral almost a touch soapy, quite chewy/fibrous woody pencils and woody herbs.
  • Finish: Long, drying and much smokier than I remember, more drying wood and mineralic milk of magnesia, applemint perhaps.

Overall

Definitely the green/woody expression I remember but with perhaps a much more noticeable smoke element, minerality and sharper resolution of herbal notes – but perhaps this is just the benefit of a much more educated palate from me now. Since it is unobtainable price-wise perhaps I do appreciate this expression much more than when it was rather freely available.

Score 84/100

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