Suntory Hakushu 12 – A Gentleman’s Review

My first ever glass of whisky was, as some of you may have known, the Hibiki 21. As I get deeper into the world of whisky, I understand that there are Japanese and Scotch, rye and single malt, blah blah blah… But there is this one green, emerald looking bottle that always catches my attention but I have just never gotten around trying it. Yes, it is the Hakushu 12 years.

Hakushu and sister distillery Yamazaki both create distinct whiskys, rivalling NIKKA, of course. However, unlike its rival, Hakushu and Yamazaki keep on producing entry-level, 10-year-old whiskys while NIKKA, for some reasons, completely removed all their aged product of Yoichi and Miyagikyo in 2015. Come on NIKKA, you can do better than that. Rumours also have it that when the 2020 Olympic hits, production of whisky is going up but I guess it is not happening any time sooner with the virus going on. Let’s take a look at the tasting.

Findings in Suntory Hakushu

Suntory Hakushu 12 Year Old : The Whisky Exchange
Hakushu 12 (source: The Whisky Exchange)

Nose: I finally understand all the hype behind this lovely whisky! A strong and unique herbal smell alongside with some fruity notes. The fresh smell of bamboo? Freshly cut grass? I smell the colour green, just like the bottle! Also, a bit malty.

Palate: Refreshing as the nose suggested, not heavy at all and slightly peaty. Some say it gives a minty or lime-leaves flavour but I don’t seem to get these notes. Slightly sweet, I’m guessing honey or corn syrup kind. Herbal taste.

Finish: A decent length. Still fresh and a bit zesty.

One thing to know before drinking Hakushu is that the distillery is located in the middle of a forest at the Southern Japan Alps, imagine the water used to produce the Hakushu. Overall, a really nice, unique whisky that, in my opinion, has a taste that no one can recreate, it is unique only to Hakushu Distillery. Comparing this to its sibling, the Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve, this has a richer and fuller profile. This DOES NOT mean that the Hakushu DR is worse the Hakushu 12, it’s just a preference thing. Definitely a nice introduction to Japanese whisky, some other beginner Japanese whisky recommendation would be the Ichiro’s Malt and Grain, and Yoichi, but this will do!


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