Sunday, October 19, 2014

Can't Get Enough - The Hakushu Single Malt Distillers Reserve

Suntory Hakushu Single Malt Distillers Reserve
Earlier this year I was introduced to two new lines of Suntory Whisky entering our country: The Hakushu Single Malt Distillers Reserve and The Yamazaki Single Malt Distillers Reserve. For the first time these expressions were being launched outside of Japan. Though I was very aware of these expressions elder 12yo siblings, when tasting these for the first time at the official Suntory Australian Launch, I was really blown off my feet with what these NAS releases had to offer. To find out more about the Suntory launch have a read of Bringing The Swagger Back - Suntory Launches Into Australia.

Yes I like Suntory Whisky that is pretty clear while I currently have a shelf full of various Suntory Whisky expressions. With the few warm days now coming through, and fellow blogger The Whisky Ledger and I in continually discussion about Suntory Highballs, it was well and truly time I opened The Hakushu Single Malt Distillers Reserve.

Bearing the same name, Hakushu Distillery lays in foothills of Mount Kaikomagatake Yamanashi Prefecture on the main island of Honshu Japan. Questing to be one of the highest distilleries in the world it was built relatively recently in 1973 with an expansion later in 1981. Though the term Southern Alps is used to describe the distilleries location it is almost parallel with Tokyo in a westerly line and easily reached within 2hrs train or drive from the capital. The Hakushu Distillery details the surrounding thick green forests (approximately six thousand varieties of plants), granite filtered ground water, coal fired stills, bamboo charcoal filtration, and carefully selected barrels as the defining elements that make this distilleries whiskies so different to its elder sibling the Yamazaki Distillery further down the coast in Osaka.

The Hakushu Single Malt Distillers Reserve
Distiller: Suntory Whisky
Region / Location: Island of Honshu, Southern Alps, Japan
Alcohol/ABV: 43%

Colour: Dry wheat with a edge of green tea leave. Interestingly though leave it in the glass for 5 min and you will find it clouds up.

Nose: Grassy, sweet creamy caramels, mint, melon, pine forest with fresh rain fall.

Taste: Full bodied yet soft and delicate delivering rich caramel, fresh picked peppermint with a fruity melon ripeness. Shortly after some citrus zest and mint spice expands across the middle of the tongue and upper palate. Taste and nose are very in-sync.

Finish: Curiously long the heat builds in the throat and the mint to citrus spice bubbles on the tongue and back of the throat.

Overall: Full bodied yet with light with fresh overtones through out. I was amazed the first time I had it and already half a bottle is gone in less than 24hrs. OK so I have been highballing it but that is a post for tomorrow.

If I was to give a dram a solid 6 out of 7. Suntory make some stella whiskies and The Hakushu Single Malt Distillers Reserve is great value at $79 AU. I actually prefer the versatility of these NAS expressions over the The Hakushu 12yo and The Yamazaki 12yo. When you want to impress your friends with a world whisky choice but need a bit of magic then this is a great starting point.

When choosing to venture into the world of Japanese whisky keep in mind Suntory expressions in particular aspire for deliver balance and harmony over everything else. Though this is a single malt, Suntory do not use just a single style barrel to achieve the profile but will be vatting several barrels styles from the single distillery in order to find the balance. That really is no different to anywhere else you may say. In my experience I have seen all to often dedicated Scotch Single Malt drinkers delving in a Japanese whisky display a curious sense of shock and surprise at first. This I feel is not only due to the harmony of the whiskies balance but also the fact it gets hard to define one unique flavour characteristic that many Scotch distilleries do aim for and what they (the drinker) expects to see.

Try The Hakushu Single Malt Distillers Reserve as I believe you will be extremely impressed. Right now I can't get enough of it. Enjoy.

The Baron