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Suntory Hakushu 12 Year Old

"Contemplative Restraint"

9 985

@cricklewoodReview by @cricklewood

29th May 2018


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

After @Mackstine review of Chita got the conversation going I thought it would be interesting to post my notes on this whisky here.

Suntory's Hakushu is the less hyped, less in demand younger brother to Yamazaki, it just doesn't seem to get the love and recognition of that whisky. The 12 year old is still relatively affordable in most markets. I think the boom causes some backlash towards Japanese whiskies because with these elevated prices/come elevated expectations that probably cannot be met.

Nose:  Pears and ripe peaches, fresh cut flowers, it's almost like good mead (I know some will say there's no such thing), pine needles, grassy and lightly vegetal, but fresh like walking in the forest in spring. The peat on the nose is present, light and very well integrated it's got this sweetness like marshmallows.

Palate: Porridge, malty, round and nectar, the bitterness kicks and then it's all grassy. The peat is present but it's like smoking conifers and juniper. The influence of the bourbon casks is present, oak and some vanilla, good honey and citronella.

Finish is medium length and drying, the sweetness and citrus is almost like old school barbershop aftershave and that discreet peat is lurking there. Sadly the texture is a bit thin and affects the length of the finish a bit.

Beyond the big flavors that hit first, there are lots of secondary notes and delicate touches. Some might find these too "crafted" or precise that is a complaint heard of Japanese whisky, it requires pause to appreciate these nuances and the work to achieve this result. I like this kind of profile, it's perhaps not completely unique but worth seeking out. It makes me curious to taste older variants but I am unlikely due to the price.

Related Suntory Hakushu reviews


Mackstine commented

Nice review! Thanks for pointing the way to this one, I think its quite fun to be able to test the unheralded whiskies to see if there’s a reasonably priced alternative to the ones that are somewhat unreachable; I’d venture that the flavour of victory comes up when you score a good one, and at the very least it’s always an opportunity to expand your tasting experiences. Great review choice. Cheers/Kampai! ;)

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

Victor commented

Pine needles, grassy, and vegetal. Yes. A very good description of Hakushu 12.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

fiddich1980 commented

Apparently, now discontinued.


3 years ago 0

MadSingleMalt commented

@fiddich1980, yeah, I saw that too in some other places. Too bad. I had a bottle of this once and really like it for what it was. Then my club had one, and it was a hit with everyone there too.

3 years ago 0

fiddich1980 commented

@MadSingleMalt I'm a slow drinker and tend to milk a bottle over a eight months to a year. I realised that in just over the last three years a number of items have been discontinued or gone NAS. Some of which are: Laddie Ten, Laphroaig 18, Elijah Craig 12, Glendronach 15, and Old Pultney 17/21. Moreover, this trend seem to be accelerating.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

MadSingleMalt commented

@fiddich1980, it's like you're drinking in a time capsule! Dare I tell you what's happened in the world since 2015? :)

3 years ago 0

RianC commented

@fiddich1980 - I'm trying to see a positive spin on this worrying trend . . . well, best I can come up with is that if quality generally wanes the bubble will burst (if it hasn't already) and then quality may have to increase along with a price decrease (and return to age statements)

As I type that I realise it's more fantasy and wishful thinking than reality but always good to dream smile

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

fiddich1980 commented

@MadSingleMalt for me more like 2013. I still haven't gotten around to a Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban NAS which has since returned to a 12 year age started.

@RianC I would not lament for the "good" old days. Progression is just part of the human condition every generation has to define what they consider is good from crap. For myself, maybe hitting a bar and sampling what is popular, could be an eye opener. Whisky drinking/tasting is a journey requires a slower pace as opposed to the instant gratification of wine appreciation.

3 years ago 2Who liked this?

cricklewood commented

Shit on biscuits! I thought they we're only dropping the Hakushu 10....oh well, none of this is surprising, except for how eager the Japanese distilleries are willing to sacrifice their reputation. I don't mean to say all the NAS releases are bad but many of them are not that interesting in the wider spectrum that is whisky.

I don't see this trend reversing anytime soon, it's all too bad really. I don't think young age statements would necessarily turn everyone off, better that than obfuscation. I would love it if the vatting information was always available (à la Bruichladdich) I think it would be helpful in also understanding more about what you are drinking and how it's put together.

@fiddich1980 as you said change is inevitable, thankfully there are still some whiskys being released the right way.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

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