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.
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! ;)
@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.