Review: Hakushu Bourbon Barrel Japanese Single Malt Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

First Fill Bourbon Barrels
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Hakushu (Hokuto, Japan)

Hakushu is the second distillery of Suntory, established in 1973 by Shinjiro Torii and located 700 m high surrounded by forests and mount Kaikomagatake. The name itself means “white sand bark”, which refers to the pale sand around the remote distillery. It is one of the highest distilleries in the world (i.e. the highest Scottish distilleries are at 355 meters), and mainly focuses on ex-bourbon (as seen in this whisy) and sherry casks. Hakashu distills four types of barley – from unpeated to heavily peated.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

On the nose, anise seed, with a general dry spicy feel and some pear. It takes some time to open up with some malt and vanilla coming through. The palate has creamy, buttery barley, with a light smoky end. There is also some rich barley, pear, and some very light earthy notes in the background and a reasonable amount of tannin as well. It’s sweet, with vanilla and a light edge of smoke on the finish. Rich barley is still in the mix, with a tinge of spice. Decent body, with a bit of a peaty vegetal character to it as well. A nice strength to this – the creaminess is nicely buffeted by the 48.2% bottling strength which brings in a strong bit of ancillary flavour.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. It’s pretty pricy for the price. Based on taste, this is in the $50-60$ range for me, against the market prices for whisky in general.