Hakushu distillery is a Japanese based distillery and a completely new distillery to me at that. I’ve always looked at Japanese whisky as a bit of a novelty consistent, good quality and fairly easy to happen across. Sadly due to demand and environmental factors Japanese whisky has become rather hard to find recently. This particular distillery is owned by the Suntory group, and situated in the Toribara locality of the former town of Hakushū (now part of Hokuto), in the Yamanashi Prefecture, Chūbu region, Japan.
Having been added to their core range of whisky in 2014 their Distiller’s Reserve single malt whisky, a no-age-statement expression, that captures the smoky, herbaceous characteristics of their whiskies. Both lightly-peated and heavily-peated malts were used for this complex whisky.
I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whiskey covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a light golden colour, leaving long legs flowing down the inside.
The nose is initially quite herbal, it almost reminds me of an Irish whisky with notes of peppermint, grass and soft menthol notes. This develops in to something a little sweeter with notes of fruit skin, pineapple and sweet pine.
Initially on tasting the whisky is quite phenol forward with notes of dry peat smoke. This is followed by notes of candied mint, orange zest and pine nuts. There are hits of chocolate, sweet pine resin and soft waves of grass toward the end of the taste. The overarching theme of this whisky is the supreme balance between flavour and texture in my mind a hallmark of Japanese whisky.
The finish is long and lingering notes of sweet mint and smoke remain on the tongue.
There is a sadness in me that these whiskies are becoming hard to find but this demand has also has a positive affect on my spirit buying pushing me toward high quality American and Irish whiskey.
Should you be able to find it, of course this whisky is worth it for the around £40 tag. It’s a fantastic introductory Japanese whisky.