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Not unlike most whisky drinking enthusiasts I also have a soft spot for Japanese single malts. For no other reason than that a non-traditional country is showing giants how the good stuff is made.
Their maturation techniques and unique weather conditions have created some of my most memorable moments of whisky sipping.
Hakushu (pronounce hak-shoo) was established in 1973, in the forest on the slopes of Mount Kaikoma which would explain the inherent earthiness that most of their spirits tend to have.
As a fan of the 12 I was quite excited to have a go at the 18.There is, however, shockingly little information on what goes into the making of this fine whisky. I understand the Japanese are insanely secretive about how they do things but some information would really help.
I suspect the spirit has seen multiple casks and a blending at some stage. I can safely assume bourbon and sherry in the mix with quite possibly some Japanese oak too. And there is some peat thrown in for good measure too.
My sample is from a brand new bottle (circa 2014) and served at a strength of 43%
Nose: Tobacco. Peat Smoke. It's quite savory. grapes. Red apple. Cumin. Coffee. Chocolate. I'm suspecting Oloroso sherry here. Husk. Citrus. Ripe oranges. Soft dates. Clove. Now I'm pretty sure it's Oloroso. Burnt toast. It's quite a robust nose. Very controlled and on point. I like it a lot!
Palate: Sweeter than the nose. Honey. Citrus. Cinnamon. Those apples again. Mint. Very juicy and velvety delivery. The clove is back too. I love the texture of this one. Makes you salivate as it does the rounds around the palate.
Finish: So long. Amazingly long. Oily. Clove. Cinnamon. Mint. Oak
This was quite a complex undertaking with loads of flavor. I've seen a lot of reviews in favor of the 12 versus this. But those could be earlier bottlings because what I had was quite top class.