Category Archives: Suntory – Hakushu

Hakushu Heavily Peated

Japan – 48%ABV – £64

I’m currently stuck at my “favorite” airport in Philadelphia.  I swear, it seems every time I fly through this airport I get screwed by something.  Gosh dang it.  At least I can count on it though, right?  Maybe I should be happy that I can rely on unreliable flights that go in and through the Philly airport.

It is, however, nice to commiserate the reliability of a delayed flight with your bar mate over a nice beer – even if it is 10:30am.  Don’t you feel that your having been inconvenienced on your way home warrants a beer?  I do.  Hello Dogfish Head 60 Minute!!

Misery aside, one thing I do rely on is the quality of Japanese whiskies.  While I can honestly say that I’ve only had 20-25 expressions of Japanese whisky, I can also attest to the fact that there was ever only one that I found to be unpalatable.

The whisky I am reviewing today falls easily within the “wow, this is a damn nice whisky” column.  Hakushu Heavily peated.  This is a NAS (no age statement) whisky that has been matured in ex-bourbon casks.

Special thanks goes out to Yoshi M for the sample!

Let’s give this one a go:

On the nose –  Some interesting stuff going on here: plastic air mattresses, smoked sugar, lemon whoopee pies and imperial hops – a fantastic multi-layered nose.

Let’s press on and see what else we can find:

Distant ashtrays and a good deal of pepper (green peppercorns to be specific).

Baked apples and spice, honied hot water and more lemon.  After a bit, the fruitiness really makes itself known as does some vanilla influence.

On the mouth – As expected, fantastic mouthfeel.  Oily yet lively, bright and satisfying.

In the flavor department, we’ve got all things burned – twigs, elastic waistbands (or gym socks), band-aids and scotch tape.

Antiseptic for sure but not in the way Listerine is; this whisky is really delicious.

There’s a malty (and yet, almost rice-like) quality here to and I reminded of a bit of a Hitachino Nest beer I had last year…

I chugged and finished it 18 minutes before Pesach (Passover) started; just to stay kosher 🙂

Finish – Decent length with a touch of the baked apples I got on the nose and a slight pepperiness (on the sides of the tongue).

In sum – While not as elegant or fruity as the Hakushu 12yo (one of my favorite whiskies, by the way), the extra 5% ABV points and the heavy peat levels on this whisky makes for a fun ride!  Complex and balanced, clean yet smoky, I could find myself pouring this whisky in many situations… even on a summer day (perhaps as a kiss-@$$ peated Mizuwari).

The Hakushu Heavily Peated was a limited release and not available in the US.  Thankfully, if you do want to try Hakushu and want to pop into a US store, you can find their 12yo available in the states now.

Suntory Hakushu 12yo – G-d Bless you!

Japan – 43%ABV – £46 | €54


“G-d bless” said a kind yet unknowing man.  We’ll call him… “Kevin”.  He thought I sneezed when I said Hakushu.  No, that was not a sneeze.  It was me yelling out the name of a Suntory whisky that, with hope, will be available in America this year.

“Kevin” is your typical American who, when it comes to whisk(e)y only thinks of Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, Dewars or Southern Comfort… he has never heard of Japanese whisky.  In fact, if you told him that the Japanese produced whisky, he’d most likely remark, “Japanese whisky?!  I never knew the Japanese made Scotch!!”

Just the facts ma’am —

Only the Scots make Scotch.  Simple fact.  Scotch is a whisky.  Bourbon is a whiskey.  Rye whiskey is, you guessed is a whiskey.  And Japanese whisky is… whisky!  Silly do-do American (sorry to all of my compatriots!)!!

What’s my point here?  Oh yeah, I love Japanese whisky and I find it really frustrating that there is so little of it readily available in the US.  The good news, as I mentioned above, is that Suntory will be bringing Hakushu to the states very soon.  Currently we can enjoy Hibiki (a blended Japanese whisky; the 21yo made my Best Whisky tasted in 2010 award) and Yamazki which is a single malt.  Both are Suntory whiskies.

Hopefully, sometime soon, we’ll get Nikka whisky here in the US.  Until then Suntory’s got our backs.

A special thanks goes out to Yoshi M for the generous sample!

On the nose Initial reaction: fruity, spicy, grapey, floral, malty and a touch of smoke.

Let’s break it out a bit though… I think we have a case of which came first, the chicken or the omelet.

Many aspects fighting to the fore such as mango and green apple (predominantly).

The floweriness is lovely here too (a bit of jasmine).

This is honeyed as well with a bit of vanilla.

Spiced gum drops.

Lemongrass and black raisins.

Nice and malty.

On the mouth Much like the nose except there’s a smoked & spiced nuttiness here.

Very malty, gobs of malt – smoked malt (I must stress – this is not an overly smokey whisky).

Fruits abound (they’re all up in this shit)!

Think crabapples and green apple pie.

Smokey still though not overbearing… it’s balancing out the sweet and spice, right nice.

Finish The finish is all on jasmine tea and spice.

In sum A wonderfully balanced whisky that can and will hold it’s own against many Scotch whiskies.  This is perfect as an aperitif or as a mid-day dram.  I’m looking forward to this being available in the US.  It’s a keeper, an everyday dram for sure.