Hakushu distillery is located in the Southern Japanese Alps and is owned by Suntory, one of the big two Japanese single malt distillers. The distillery started operating in 1973 on the 50th anniversary of the start of construction of its sister distillery, Yamazaki. Nowadays all Hakushu single malt is produced in Hakushu Higashi, a second distillery that was built on the same site in 1981.
The nose is grassy and fruity with vanilla and citrus notes, all in all very light and not too distinctive. The smoke that I found in the 12yo is non-existent here.
The palate is light-bodied, smooth and slightly peppery at the end. A thin sweetness prevails over all other flavours. There are faint notes of caramel and honey albeit they taste like a watered-down version of the 12yo.
The finish is short and dry. Is there some smoke trying to make itself heard?
Hakushu 10yo is like the younger brother to the 12yo: less distinct, with less impact and less smoke. This is a nice and very drinkable whisky but not too interesting. I suppose this is the reason why Hakushu 10yo is being phased out in international markets since Suntory considers it to be “too close to the 12yo” in terms of flavour. I certainly agree although the 10yo does have an individuality of its own. Still, as long as Suntory does not take away the 12yo I am happy enough.