Suntory 12 Year Old "Hakushu" Japanese Peated Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
This golden, silky single malt mingles vanilla and honey with fresh apple and pear aromas. These notes are echoed on the palate alongside a wave of peat smoke. Add a splash of water to offset the modest but persistent alcohol heat and further coax out the fruity-smoky flavors. (KN)
Although only two years older, this expression of Hakushu — the first to be launched in the U.S. — shows a fleshier side to the distillery’s wares. While it has retained the freshness of the 10 year old, it shows more pineapple and grapefruit on the nose, with a little fragrance of jasmine and osmanthus. On the palate, it’s fresh and lively with a hint of persimmon and a tickle of smoke. Recommended. (DB, Spring 2012)
This Suntory distillery is located in a mountain forest in the southern Japanese alps. The whisky has cool, mint/basil, bamboo, kiwi and green melon aromas with the faintest hint of smoke.
The newest Japanese whisky to hit the U.S. market is Suntory's Hakushu--known as the "Forest Distillery." Built in 1973 as a sister distillery to Suntory's Yamazaki distillery (previously the only Japanese single malt available in the U.S.), the facility is located at a high-elevation site next to the "pristine waters" of the Ojira River, which are used to dilute the whisky itself. Hakushu distillery uses different styles of oak barrel to age their single malt, but mainly Hogshead, which, according to the distillery, is "suitable to the clear air and cool humid climate." The 12-year old from Hakushu is lightly peated and very delicate in its flavor profile. The light and fruity style of the whisky is quite similar to the Yamazaki 12, but the smoke really makes up for the lack of richness. Because most of Japan drinks their younger malts with ice and water, the Hakushu is definitely another whisky designed for that purpose, which may turn off some of the single-malt sippers stateside. However, even straight at room temperature, the Hakushu really delivers quality flavors for the price point. Think Talisker, but distinctly less round or supple. So far I've really enjoyed tinkering with it in different forms--as a Highball, with an ice cube and just plain neat. This is one of the most enjoyable bottles I've purchased in some time. (David Driscoll, K&L Spirits Buyer)