The more I sample Japanese malts, the more i seem to like them. Too bad getting Japanese malt is trickier than getting the odd scotch dram. After sipping a few Yamazaki’s and loving them (12 vs. 18 post, and soon to follow a post about the amazing Sherry Cask – thanks Yossi!) I decided I am ready to move on to another Suntory distillery: Hakushu.
I did have expectations, after having gotten some recommendations from Jason of the (Guid Scotch Whisky Blog), and after having read his Japanese whisky session.
The Hakushu distillery was built in 1973 in the Southern Japanese alps (yes, they got alps too in Japan. What a remarkable country this is. I must visit), and at first contributed its malt mainly to blends, in 1981 another distillery was built (referred to as Hakushu east) next to the existing distillery, today both operate together and their “twin pagodas” linked together is their ‘trademark’. Hakushu is one of the tallest distilleries (in terms of altitude) and is over 670m above sea level.
The Hakushu as opposed to the Yamazaki 12, is supposed to be more peppery, a bit smoky and a bit peaty. Well, let’s see how this one fairs:
Hakushu 12 single malt , 43% ABV
Color: light golden. It comes in those Green bottles that do not let the color mislead you as to the quality and maturity of the spirit (same as Laphraoig). I wonder if this is for the same reasons.
Nose: The Nose is rather delicate and does not give any hints as what’s to happen next on the palate. I am getting some leafy notes (wet leaves in the winter, in an orchard) , Grass after being mowed , some flower petals , apple and maybe some hints of semi-sweet pears.
Palate : Palate starts like the nose , sweet fruity grassy , some cereal notes, then all of a sudden you get the Pepper attack! Peppers and some Tabasco! You definitely do not expect that peppery feeling based on the nose. It’s so different and very surprising. Rather nice!
Finish : the pepper is here to stay with some whiffs of light smoke, and hints of peat (this is what I call feather-light peat) so light it’s barely noticeably, but it’s there. The finish is quite long and the peppery feeling does linger for quite some time. Very enjoyable.
Summing it up:
This is an enjoyable dram, light on the nose, but very peppery on the palate. I can see myself sipping this on warmer evenings (translate : every evening in Israel from May-January) when I am looking for a delicate pre-dinner dram. Sitting on the veranda and enjoying a bit of breeze with this one can be a delight. As for pricing , around 46 GBP it’s not a cheap one, but a very interesting option to think about when building your Japanese/world whiskies shelf. A solid dram, no doubt.
thanks for Chris, for this lovely sample.
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