Well I recently found myself in the UK, paying a visit before the country went tits up in the Brexit. I paid a visit to Soho for some sushi, papercraft kits, and some Japanese whisky. I had tried a version of Hakushu once in a restaurant, but I had not heard of the distiller’s reserve (this might be because at this time I can’t find it in the states) but I figured I’d give it a try.
Overall this actually is quite a good whisky – doing well above average in that quasi-category of whiskies vs. scotches that it resides in. Justice however found the Yamazaki 12 year to be quite good, but it seems to be better overall than the Nikka 12 year so if you are looking for a good Japanese whiskey – this might be it.
What they Say: “Bottle: Since 1973m The distillery surrounded by forest.
Box: Distilled at Hakushu distillery surrounded by forest at the foot of the Southern Japan Alps.
In 1973, the Hakushu Distillery was built in a dense forest at the foot of Mt. Kaikomagatake with numerous streams including Ojira River, one of the top 100 spring waters in Japan. Various blessing of the forest such as natural water of the southern Japan Alps purified by granite rocks, Japan’s distinctive four seasons, majestic forest atmosphere full of inspiration, and the enriching and intense climate caused by the altitude richly mature the whisky. The “Single Malt Whisky Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve” born in Hakushu distillery is a refreshing whisky characterized by the brisk aroma and flavour that remind of fresh green in the forest. Enjoy a new whisky experience that makes you feel as if it take you to the forest.
The Hakushu Distiller Reserve Tasting Notes
Color: Light gold
Nose: Peppermint, Melon, Cucumber
Palate: Yuzu, Grapefruit, Lemon, Thyme
Finish: Refreshing, subtle smoke.”
Taste: 6.5 – You get that sort of sweet and and overall cleanliness at first
Aftertaste: 7.5 – You get a real powerful woody taste here, and the maltyness shines through. I really like it.
Burn/Smooth: 6.0 – There is a hint of a more charcoal like burn, and there is a bit of warmth that lingers – but it’s better for tasting then smoothness.
Aroma: 6.5 – It’s a nice smelling whisky, and I feel like there’s cherries in the wood smell.
Honesty: 6.5 – I am against tasting notes as usual, and even more against saying that a single scotch can taste like a forest. However despite what some would feel is a lack of history (1973) making your color choice and literature about your distillery really rings of the scottish isles that this is trying to imitate. Owned by Suntory (which is mostly meaningless if you look at what they actually own) this is a fantastic whisky to have.
W/ Rocks: 7.0 – This for the most part just increases what the whiskey was already doing by just a bit. You still get the same amount of wood, smoke, burn, and sweetness here and while it doesn’t transform, it does improve.
Value: 4.0 – The main detriment to the value here is that it seems looking into this, that you can’t get it in the US. Meaning that I need to kill it here while in the UK (as I can’t take it on plane), and hope to maybe snag a bottle for home duty-free. As well this gets into some higher scotch pricing, so I’m not sure if I would buy this even then.
Google Shop Average: $67
Metric Score: 44/70 |+| Metric Average: 6.28 |+| Reviewer Average: 6.5
Final Thoughts: I have to say, as someone who is a big lover of scotch – the rise of Japanese whisky has me very excited. The market really only kickstarted into fruition a few decades ago, and their clear love of the whisky means they will only further improve their product. Soon it may be time to coin a new term more elegant than ‘Japanese whiskey’ for the common man.