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Hokuto, a Pure Malt with an ABV of 40%, was produced by Suntory and was first released in 2004. Production was stopped around 2009/2010 and today Hokuto is difficult to find, even in Japan. My sample was provided by a fellow whisky enthusiast who lives in Japan and happened to find a bottle in a small liquor shop.
The nose is very fruity with lots of apples and pears, followed by oranges and banana. There is also a malty and nutty component that is delightful.
The palate is very smooth at the beginning – almost to the point of being watery – and again fruity with the afore-mentioned apples and pears, then suddenly changes tack and becomes peppery and spicy.
The finish is medium long, warming and quite voluminous. It closes with a nice, slightly peppery bouquet of apples and vanilla.
This is a very pleasant whisky, and I liked it a lot! It starts with a delightfully light nose, reminiscent of some of the Hakushu core expressions, followed by a smooth palate that turns peppery while never losing its fruitiness, and crowned by a warming and surprisingly voluminous finish. I had not expected this from a 12-year old at 40% ABV, and it just shows how much craftsmanship went into this whisky. As I said Hokuto was discontinued a couple of years ago – lucky are those who were there to taste it!