Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hakushu 12yo 43% abv Circa 2011

Nose: Handsome. Whiffs of subtle smoke and mild mulch qualities: putrefying leaves and bark. However, there is also a sweet fragrant cut grass quality. There are suggestions of citrus: subdued lemon but more so watery mandarin. Vanilla plays a part in mid-ground: boiled confectionary. Earthy notes are emphasized with time - that is if you can resist.

Taste: Crisp and moderately creamy (pure cream/pouring cream and not whipped or thickened cream). As with the nose there is subtle, faint smoke, which rolls of the back of your tongue. Very soft spices play happily amongst the vanilla. All in all the palate is consistent with the nose. Streamlined oak is evident with time and the citrus turns from a shy lemon to dried kumquat. Suggestions of nut are present: borderline macadamia and/or cashew.

Finish: Soft oak and moderate with trademark soft vanilla and spice. A tiny hint of that nutty presence rolls of the last wave.

Comment: The 2011 bottling of the Hakushu 12-yo is perhaps the best batch variation in terms of personal preference. I found citrus to be less present this time around compared to older batches. Water is not needed in my opinion. Happy to include this bottle amongst the few I cracked for the festive season, it has plays all the right tunes.

Reviewed by Clint A


  1. I think the bottle I have is a 2011 bottling.
    I like it very much - it is subtle & complex.
    It is easy to overlook amongst big, bold whiskies, but its charms have a way of creeping up on you! It would make a great "session" whisky.

    1. Hi Alan, it's generally hard to determine the circa of Hakushu and Yamazaki bottlings, in fact any Japanese or Scotch whiskies for that matter, as labels don't generally state yearly releases/batches unless its a special cask expression for example. However, possibly the best way to determine a circa of a bottle is by its packaging/carton. In the instance of the Hakushu 12-yo, the circa 2011 batch was issued in a white carton where as the 2012/2013 were released in an all green package.

      The Hakshu 12-yo, like its younger brother (10-yo) are both great "session" malts. Both are equally subtle and complex in my opinion with differences in levels of citrus and play of smoke. I always make sure, well try to at least, to have a one or the other in my cabinet at all times.

  2. Mine came in a white box, so it sounds like it is most likely 2011.
    The shipped price in Australia of Hakushu(because for some stupid reason Suntory don't market it here) makes it a more occasional treat than it should be!
    I was interested to read your note on the Whisky Live 10th Anniversary bottling, as I have an unopened bottle that I found in a little shop in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto when I was there about a month after the earthquake & tsunami.
    Sounds like I should open it & try it!

    1. Interesting find in an equally interesting location. I have not come across that bottle again since I posted about it and consumed it all. Well done, good find.Yes, open it and give it a try, Alan. As for the Hak 12, what are they retailing it for now in Australia?

  3. It's not officially marketed here, so the only way to get it is from specialist retailers who have an alternate source of supply (which can be erratic), or to order it from Japan.
    Either way it works out to about AU$120 or so (plus duty if the customs guys are having a bad day!)
    I'd love to get it cheaper than that, but the only way to do that is to buy it in Japan & bring it home.
    The problem with THAT is that when I'm in Japan I'm looking for rarer bottles rather than the mainstream offerings!

    1. Although not officially marketed in Australia am I right to think Dan Murphy's stock it, or is it the 10-yo only? Certainly agree, the times you visit Japan it is well worth the while to pick up something that little bit rarer compared to main stream. There would not be too many people who have this bottle in Australia.

  4. They only have Yamazaki 12yo