Hakushu Single Cask 1999 10YO Bourbon Barrel # AHAK2001 56%abv

P1050281Nose: Strawberries, fresh cut timber, barley, pears, bourbon like orange. Water adds lychee and honeydew melon.
Palate: Without water overwhelmingly hot. It’s smooth enough going down, it just lights up the palate. Needs a good ‘splash’ of water and even then there is still some decent chili heat. With water the whisky opens up some with poached pears, nutmeg, Brazil nuts, lemon, lychee’s, raisins and strawberry compote.
Finish: The heat continues on the palate but again, water assists greatly. Lychees, raisins, cantaloupe and almonds.

Last Word: They really could have bottled this at 46% and it would have been more rounded from the start. Once you cut through the heat with a lot of water there are some nice flavors to be had.

Rating: 84/100

Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve No Age Statement 43%abv

P1030190Nose: Oak, caramel, wood spices, ginger bread, figs. Immediately Yamazaki/Japanese whisky if you know what I mean.
Palate: Lovely tangy spiciness. Ginger bread, tobacco, cloves, fig jam, cashews, pepper, cola, oak, cocoa, peanut butter. Tasty!
Finish: Medium length on oak, oak, cocoa, ginger bread, fig jam, tobacco and peanut butter.
Last Word:: For mine easily the most successful of the no age statement replacement single malt bottling’s from Nikka and Suntory. This is my 3rd bottle in the last 12 months and I have been very satisfied each time. Happy enough to have this as a subsitute for the 12YO at about 20-30 bucks less.

Rating: 85/100

Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve No Age Statement 43%abv

P1030189Nose: Light and crisp. Pear slices, lemons, grapefruit, moss/wet forest, a little acetone.
Palate: Crisp and clean. A little oily, pears, almonds, nougat, cloves, pepper, wet moss.
Finish: Short on pears, cloves and pepper.
Last Word: Some of the Hakushu distillery profile is there such as crisp mountain spring water, earthiness and pepper. The palate however lacks enough satisfying body and complexity and the finish is very short. Where is the nicely integrated peat I would normally expect? I’ve tried several bottles of this and have always been left underwhelmed. Not a patch on the 12YO which I poured a dram of to taste side by side.

Rating: 80/100 only because the base spirit itself was distilled with obvious care.

Hakushu Sherry Cask 2014 48%abv

suntory_hakushu_sherry 2014Nose: Christmas pudding, demerara rum, chocolate, coffee grinds, red apple skins, mixed peel, all spice. Pretty much as expected though it’s not a potent nose.
Palate: Way more punch than the nose. A mix of sweet and savory spices. blackcurrant jols, raisins, barbeque shapes, sweet red apples, dark chocolate, peanut brittle, touch of menthol, a fair whack of drying oak and the typical Hakushu earthiness.
Finish: Raisins, peanut brittle, demerara rum, earthiness, menthol and oak.
Last Word: Solid sherry cask matured whisky I personally prefer the richness of Yamazaki’s efforts for these yearly NAS sherry cask whiskies over the dry/earthiness of Hakushu’s.

Rating: 87/100

*Sample courtesy of Clint at Whiskies R Us

Hakushu Heavily Peated 2013 48%abv

hakushu-heavily-peated-2013-48Nose: Smoke infused lime, cucumber, pine, putty, medium earthy peat, hoisin sauce, pear jubes, green apple peels, lemon cough drops, corned beef, brine.
Palate: Huge hot prickly spices. Earthy peat, wet cement, lime, pine, straight earthiness, pickled ginger, pickles, salted macadamias, a bitter element, ash, corned beef. Adding water drives the ash/pine, ups the macadamias and adds back in the hoisin sauce.
Finish: Lime, brine, corned beef, pepper, pickled ginger then fades fast to earthy peat and ash.
Last Word: Not the most balanced of whiskies and you’d have to like ’em hot. Different enough from the 2012 to warrant the purchase.

Rating: 85/100

Hakushu Sherry Cask 2013 48%abv

hakushu-sherry-cask-2013-48Nose: Raisins, figs, new tanned leather, candied orange slices, demerara rum, nutmeg, sweet tobacco, cloves and some earthiness. Pretty much what I expected.
Palate: Juicy. Plums, raisins, orange chocolate, coffee, cocoa, nutmeg, pepper, demerara rum, cloves. The earthiness again but not as prominent as many a Hakushu. Light, clean body.
Finish Short and clean. Raisins, chocolate, plums, orange peel, some gentle spiciness, a little dry then quite a hit of tinned passion fruit.
Last Word: Well balanced sherry cask whisky with lots of typical Suntory sherry cask notes and flavors but lacks the wow factor.

Rating: 87/10
*For an alternate review check out Whiskies R Us

Suntory Owners Cask Hakushu 2000-2010 Bar Hermit Private Stock Heavily Peated #EL 41499 62%abv

p1010462

Nose: Vanilla, antiseptic, forest floor covered in autumn leaves, fermented pears, steamed green vegetables, coal fire, pineapple, roasted chestnuts. Hot!
Palate: Big! Charred vanilla, cinnamon donuts, chocolate cannoli’s, marzipan, nougat, steamed green vegies ash, heavy earthy peat.
Finish: Heavy peat mixed with creamy nuts, chocolate, sweet spices and candy flavors.
Last Word. Hakushu can do heavy peat and not just in name.

Suntory Owners Cask Hakushu 2000-2011 ‘Smokey and Bitter’ American White Oak #EL 41914 57%

hakushu-2000-smokey-and-bitterNose: Lemon cough drops, brine, thick earthy peat, grapefruit, sump oil, old leather, tarred rope, dried pears, overripe papaya, some floral notes.
Palate: Honey lemon cough drops, heavy earthy peat, grapefruit, milk chocolate, sump oil. lemon zest, white pepper, oats, pork fat. A little water adds candies, mixed dried herbs and nougat.
Finish: Honey, mouth coating earthy peat, ash, lemon, grapefruit. Adding water has the same effect as the palate.
Last Word: A Heavily Peated Hakushu in nature not just in name. Addictive!

Rating: 90/100

Hakushu 18YO 43% circa 2012

hakushu-18yo-43Nose: Sweet pears, caramelized passion fruit, orange, red grapes, typical Hakushu earthy/forest notes. Lime juice, pepper, subtle oak and peat. Light but lovely.
Palate: Clean and fresh. A bit more peat than on the nose. Candied nuts, grilled fish, sweet pears, fresh mushrooms, lime juice, forest floor, cocoa, pepper, menthol.
Finish: Fruity, nutty, earthy, mushrooms and menthol.
Last Word: A well crafted, well balanced dram. Not a whisky to judge on a single sample as this one reveals it’s class after at least over 4-5 glasses. A must try even at the extra expense over of the already fine Hakushu 12YO.

Rating: 88/100
*Update 9/Feb/2013. Keeps getting better now 89/100

Hakushu Heavily Peated 2012 No Age Statement 48%abv

p1000847Nose: Lightly medicinal. Lime, autumn leaves, damp forest floor, green steamed vegies, apples, pears, earthy peat.
Palate: Lime, apples, earthy peat, wet pebbles, chocolate, cashews, candies, menthol, pepper. Some oiliness to the mouth feel.
Finish: Earthy peat, candies, cashews, menthol. Finishes with a mineral quality.
Last Word: Not the boldest or most complex but tasty.

Rating: 85/100

Hakushu 12 43% circa 2011

suntory-hakushu-12-year-old-435

Nose: Very fresh and clean as a whistle. Seems to be untainted by any wood influence at all. Banana, vanilla custard, lychee, soap flakes, peat. Invigorating.
Palate: Pepper as if it’s straight from the shaker into the malt. Earthy peat, banana over oats, toffee, some orange and lemon.
Finish: Is medium length, dominated by peppery spice, and underpinned by clean malt and lingering earthy peat.
Last Word: Very well crafted. A good one for displaying the difference between the taste of peat and smoke.

Rating: 87/100

Hakushu Single Malt No Age Statement 43% abv

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Nose: Light but typically fresh Hakushu. Lime, Pine, wet moss/earth, tinned pears, salt, a little spearmint.
Palate: White pepper, lime, wet forest floor, almonds.
Finish: Lime, almonds, peach candies and some drying oak. A lightweight aperitif style. Last Word: Serious whisky fans would be better served saving for the 12 year old in my opinion.
Rating: 79/100

The Cask of Hakushu Heavily Peated 1993 #3B40573 58% White Oak

the-cask-of-hakushu-heavily-peated-1993-3b40573-58

Nose: Fairly subtle peat hangs over balanced oak, pine and varnish. Then, after a little time, that Japanese magic of lychees and cherry blossoms breaks the surface, followed by some cereal notes and earthiness. After about 20 mins, some brineyness becomes apparent.
Palate: Sweet peat comes through in a big way. A lovely spice hit of cinnamon/nutmeg/salt followed by a hint of Hubba-Bubba that I’ve found in few Japanese whiskies (particularly those from Yoichi). A little water brought out some chocolate.
Finish: Mainly on the palate with sweet peat, soft oak, and a sweet/hot spiciness dominating. Water brings out the chocolate.
Last Word: Not a peat monster by any stretch, but an extremely well balanced and complex whisky.
Rating: 87/100

The Cask of Hakushu 1993 Spanish Oak Bota Corta Cask #3C40789 60%

the-cask-of-hakushu-1993-bota-corta-15yo-3c40790-60

Colour: Reddish brown
Nose: Sherry, oak, raisins and currants
Palate: Sherry, dark cherry, oak, dark chocolate, blood oranges, raisins, Christmas pudding.
Finish: Plums, nutmeg, lemon sherbet, mixed peel zing. Quite Aberlour A’bunadh like but smoother at a similar alcohol content.”
Score: 90/100 Tasted from a sample.(Photo is indicative)

Suntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu Aged 15 Years. 56%abv

hakushu-single-malt-15yo-500ml-56

Nose: Sweet oak (reminds me of a number Hanyu’s I have tasted in this respect), which is beautifully intergrated into the malt. Varnish, roasted chesnuts, fresh baked scones with butter and a slightly burnt apple crumble.
Palate:Hot, Hot, Hot! Not a burning alcoholic heat, more like chillis. Probably the hottest whisky I have tried and I love it. Huge spice: pepper, salt, chilli, nutmeg and cinnamon. Lots of sweet oak, peanuts and marshmellows.
Finish: Long, hot, spicy and oaky, but with a certain candied sweetness. This was not a whisky I would choose to add water to because I enjoy the rush of it at cask strength.
General comment: I’ll make no bones about it, I love this whisky.

Rating: 92/100

Suntory Owner’s Cask Hakushu 1997 11-year-old No. BD40263. 58%abv

suntory-owners-cask-shinanoya-hakushu-1997-11yo-58

Nose: Oak, varnish, soy sauce, stewed pears, vanilla, red apple peel, peanut butter, peach skins. Lots going on. Continually evolving.
Palate: Quite hot. chilies? Yeast, soy sauce, peanut butter, thickened cream. A little water actually makes this hotter. More water again brings out vanilla and cherry blossom.
Finish: Long, warming and dominated by the flavours on the palate.
Last Word: A bit of an oddity, the flavours don’t quite gel together, but still fun and interesting.
Rating: 84/100

The Hakushu Bourbon Barrel (no age statement). 48%abv

hakushu-bourbon-barrel-nas-48

Nose: Fresh oak, pepper, earthy peat, lime juice, soap flakes, cherry blossom, pineapple and a little salt

Palate: Typically clean Hakushu mouth feel. Immediate hit of pepper. Licorice, lime juice, subtle earthy peat, some peanut shell bitterness, strawberry chocolate, menthol.

Finish: Is short-medium on pepper, lime juice, strawberry chocolate then fades to green apples.

Last Word: Think of punchier version of Hakushu 12 with some added sweetness.

Rating: 86/100

The Hakushu Single Malt Whisky Sherry Cask 2012. 48% abv

hakushu-sherry-cask-2012-nas-48

Nose: Top note is classic Hakushu, fresh and clean, a walk through the forest of the Japanese Alps; dry sherry, Valencia oranges, new leather seats, fresh mint, sweet tobacco, well-steeped tea, stewed prunes and a little vanilla.
Palate: Leads with a big combo of hot and sweet spices. Peanut brittle, dry sherry, strawberry, cloves, earth, chocolate, fig jam, mushrooms. Water brings out toffee, nougat, cherry and enhances the strawberry.
Finish: Medium on forest earthyness, mushrooms, dry sherry, strawberries, toffee, fig jam, peanut butter, fresh lawn clippings, tobacco leaf, drying.
Rating: 89/100