Producer: Suntory. Distillery: Hakushu. ABV: 43%. Age: 12 years. Price: $65-100.
Hakushu 12 is one of the few age-stated Japanese whiskies still more or less accessible on the U.S. market. It provides the peated malt for multiple blends by the Hakushu Distillery’s parent company, Suntory, including the new Suntory Toki.
The nose is both grassy and sweet. Lemon-lime and white smoke. A little cedary influence that might be a touch of Japanese Mizunara oak–though brand reps say the distillery uses very little of it in maturation due to the expense. A little salted caramel toward the end. In all, a very appealing nose: crisp but robust enough to stay interesting.
Palate: it loses some ground here. The peat is mild and pleasant, with that sweet grassiness from the nose. There’s some pear gelato, with a vein of lemon pepper too. The weakness is in the body, which is distinctly watery. The finish is something of a letdown too: on the short side, with toasted vanilla and sweet seaweed.
The Hakushu 12 is often called a must-try for Japanese whisky explorers. I’d agree–but it’s best to have a dram at a well-stocked bar before you lay out what most stores will ask for it these days, $100 or close to it.
Kanpai, friends! -BO