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Suntory Hakushu 18 Year Old

Average score from 6 reviews and 10 ratings 85

Suntory Hakushu 18 Year Old

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Suntory Hakushu 18 Year Old

Nose Gentle wood Smoke, earthy moss, cut grass, green grape, Chinese orange fruit on desserts, charcoal moochi, red apple - sweet. Orchard

Palate Sweet salt toffee , apple, vanilla, lemon, orange.

Finish Long and tingling, earthy with tons of wood spice, apple- red spicy and fiery

Peat is an interesting twist on Japanese whiskey as a whole. Not my favourite of what I tried in Japan but very interesting.


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.

Sounds delicious.

oh believe me it is...


from a sample from a friend

Nose: Crystallized sugar sweet malt and rich soft, yellow fruit. Lemon, peaches, and glazed apricots. Orange zest and fruit-wax. Sweet young calvados/green apple. With time, the apples become far more prominent and dominant. Eventually, a faint smoke and verdant trees in a damp forest emerge.

Palate: Pleasant and easy enough. Maybe even too easy. Rather silky and on heavy cream. No real oomph. Honey, apple slices, vanilla, lemon, waxy sweet lemons. Soft and sweet ginger, a little salt. Fairly simple and linear. This strikes me more as a dessert malt or calming digestif.

Finish: Clear and precise. Smattering of yellow citric tropical fruit, not always distinct, malt, zest, and even more residual cream film. Very enjoyable and clearly very well made, if only wanting for just a bit more 'there' there really.


My wife and I recently went to Helvetica with her sister and brother in law. Being whisky lovers spending some time at the local whisky bar is just a few short steps from heaven.

Heaven being time spent in Kentucky, Scotland or Japan visiting distilleries.

I'd cruised their drinks menu before heading in and two whiskies that had caught my eye were two Springbanks, an 11 yr old cask strength aged in Madeira wood and a 12 yr old cask strength aged in Claret wood.

They'd caught my eye because the Campbeltown region is probably the region I've had the least amount experience with when it comes to the whisky regions of Scotland.

However while we're going over the menu and I'm getting ready to order the Springbank Madeira Wood to start with I see something that looks so bloody good.

The Hakushu 18 year old.

I show it to my wife and we both grin. Hakushu 12 year old is hands down our favorite Japanese whisky.

We can't wait to get our hands on the 18 year old!

Even if is three times the price of the Springbanks.

I come back and hand my wife the glass of Hakushu. It's only fitting that she get to try it first.

She noses the glass, looks over at me as her face drops then decides to take a drink. Her face completely falls at that point as she hands me the glass.

She is not a happy wife.

She looks at me and goes "boring, bland, lame."

I decide to nose the whisky and I'll be honest, I've been more impressed.

Floral with oak and hints of apple and vanilla. But so much more mellow and boring compared to the 12 year old.

Time for a taste, hopefully it's better.

Little bit of spice, mainly cinnamon, apples, and lots and lots of toffee.

Pretty much just toffee.

Finish is long and dry with oak.

What the hell?!

Where is the Japanese whisky that I know and love.

This is boring and unbalanced. No peat, no great deal of complexity.

And the price point!

A pain to find and it'll run you a measily $250 AUS as compared to the reasonable price of the Hakushu 12 years old $120 to $150 AUS.

Avoid this whisky. Go for the 12 year old. It's by far a better whisky.


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 quite flowery and yields apple, some vanilla and herbal notes such as green grass. There seems to be a whiff of fresh air similar to a walk in the woods. Some people have detected smoke in here - I have not.

The palate is very smooth, creamy and almost silky although not as voluminous as one might expect from a 18yo. At mid-palate a distinct and interesting spiciness makes its appearance.

The finish is long and mouth-watering, ending with a touch of dry oak.

Hakushu is among my favourite single malts. It is very well balanced and I love the fresh and invigorating nose. I usually drink this without water, fully enjoying this refreshing walk in the woods.


Hakushu uses water from the Ojira and Jingu rivers which is considered among the purest in Japan and therefor bottled as such by Suntory (which owns Hakushu). This whisky is their 18 Year Old, with a slightly darker hue than their 10 Year Old.

The nose plays in a different league than the 10 Year Old. More expressive on vanilla, fresh wood shavings. No. Make that the still warm edge of a fresly sawn plank. Quite nice, even if it doen not reveal a lot of fruit, besides some apples. Flowers as well. Despite all that, this nose is just as light.

It has a little more body than the younger version, but is still not completely mouthcoating. Fairly spicy with some apples and cinnamon, but it lacks a bit of punch. Hardly any peat to speak of (not that I was looking for it). Okay, but not grand.

The finish is the highlight of this Japanese whisky: long and slightly drying because of the Mizunara.

The nose was worth the effort, but it did not really deliver on the palate. The finish was the best part, but coughing up about 60 EUR seems a bit much.

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