Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve

"My second Japanese whisky experience tastes inviting, but remains slightly underwhelmed, if only those aged Hakushu expressions would reappear in an affordable form"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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This was released a while ago, together with a Distiller’s Reserve from Yamazaki (which will be reviewed here soon), by Suntori as part of the new standard range. Constructed to showcase the style of the distillery, young (mildly) peated malt is mixed with older heavily peated malt and 18+-year-old spirit matured in american oak casks. My experience with Japanese whisky has been, well, non-existent so far, also due to the staggering rise in prices in recent years. What I can say already is that I love the packaging/lable design, which I think suits the advertised herbal/smoky style of Hakushu.

Nose

This is indeed green and fresh with hints of smoke. So far, we follow the expected road. Vegetably (is that a word?) with cucumber and other green fruits that are infused with smoke. I also detect orange blossom, lychees, freshly pressed oranges, citrus sweets and smoked fish. A subtle nose, albeit slightly underwhelming. 

Taste

Oh quite spicy, and much expressive compared to the nose. The spiciness is clearly different to what I am customed to in Scotch, so could this be the Japanese style? I find mints and sweet oranges. Then a citrus burst, which develops into earthy notes, barley, sour bread, and becomes herbal. The palate falls slightly short compared to the subtlety and complexity of the nose. Finish is quite drying, reminding me of one of the Alsatian white wines, I would say Gewürztraminer.

Overall

This is a subtle single malt. It is different, fresh and, I would say, definitely Japanese. Maybe a bit singular. The nose was very pleasing, but the taste disappointed a bit. Just a tad too young perhaps? Well, gotta try more samples of the Japanese whisky, because it has further awakened my curiosity for their particular style, albeit that I did not like the Hakushu 18 years that much.

What others say

Whiskybase: 82.29 (149 votes) * @Whiskynotes: 84/100 * @Sommersetwhisky: 86/100
Read for yourself

A sample of this was purchased from

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
25%
Peat/smoke
15%
Nose 84%
Taste 79%
Balance 80%
Depth 80%
Finish 78%
Score