Dram Review: Hakushu Sherry Cask Bottled in 2012

[48.0%・NAS・Bottled in 2012・Original Bottling・Limited Release of 4300 Bottles]

Nose:

Sticky figs and prunes prove captivating, roasted almonds, espresso and tannins smoothed over by the buttery leather.

Palate & Finish:

Liquor cured oranges bursting through with the bright but creamy Sherry influence, ample of wood and leather as well, hitting you right at the spot.

Dark chocolate, leather and tannins just stay on and on and a little longer still.

Thoughts:

Always revisit a dram you enjoyed, it’s been a good few years since I have had a Sherried Hakushu, and truly it gets me just how I like it.

I know I know, no one really cracks a new bottle open anymore but if you get a chance to order a dram do it, sometimes it’s been so long you forget what it’s like to be treated.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Hakushu Aged 18 Years Limited Edition

Style: Forest fruits, Peppery and Oaky

Nose:

Starts with a powerful herbal drum roll, vanilla barley, autumn apples and honey mead emerging afterwards. Black pepper fuses with peppermint and showers down on the whole parade. Fat blue berries leading fragrant tropical fruits, mineral peat going slightly chalky at the back. Clean, peppery with optimal sweetness.

Palate:

Bright medicinal herbs entrance. Fresh forest fruits pushing another wave of thoroughly stewed tropical fruits. Black pepper and spearmint firmly etched into the veins of this spirit. Flipping to the drier side, cool mountain breeze, mineral notes uncovered and earthy peat surfaces. Towering pine, smoke zooming in with the faintest echo of sea waves. Dry vanilla barley-malt staying till the very end.

Finish:

Refluxes of fragrant apple with Hakushu freshness, prunes and assorted fruits and a final touch of vanilla oak to give slight bitterness.

Thoughts:

Another complete display of Hakushu, each element gets to perform under the forest-themed parade. Nice and complex. Although I prefer the Hakushu 12 more, as some might find the pepper and oak in the 18 is on the stronger side. Barely made it to 1 star if you ask me. That said, it is a fresh and comfy dram.

☆ [Recommended]

[43% • Original Bottling • Limited Edition • Circa 2016 Bottled • *-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Hakushu 白州 Aged 12 Years

Style: Forest fruits, Lightly peated and Complex

Nose:

Black pepper sprinkling on green spearmint forming an intriguing, dry spearhead. Distant coastal waves, faint grilled mackerel. Fragrant tropical fruits combine with plenty of fresh pine notes. White vanilla cream, mineral kiss, floral nectar slowly rises up. Finishes with fresh oak and barley on the drier side.

Palate:

Banquet of overripe fruits mashing with white flower nectar and green pine, wood smoke mindlessly weaving into the fruity core. Hitting a peppermint spike, more black pepper sprinkling at the top. Stewed fruits, honeycomb slab with a touch of smoked ham. Red liquorice slipping under, vanilla milk binding with subtle mineral notes. Green pine humming at the back.

Finish:

Stewed fruits and honey wax giving a pleasant tail, a touch of greenness lifting up the tone.

Thoughts:

It has been a while since I revisit Hakushu, and I still like it very much. Refreshing green pine leading the way and fragrant stewed fruits sitting pretty at the core, multiple nuances building around it. A bit dry to begin with (Bottle oxidization? My Hakushu 12 has been opened for more than 3 years now, but I don’t think so…), a joyful presentation nonetheless with exceptional complexity. Quality drop.

☆ [Recommended]

[43% • Original Bottling • General Release • Circa 2013]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: SMWS 120.8 Hakushu 白州 “A surge of sweet peat”

Style: Complex and Spicy

Nose:
Roasted macadamia nuts closely trailed by clean forest fruits. Pine nuts lightly grilled by peat smoke. Sweetness gradually opens up as shy glazed pineapples and passionfruit lollies step in with light green herbs and clove oil. A touch of smoked mackerel from the back, all the layers nicely overlap and weaved together. Nice and complex.

Palate:
More glazed tropical fruits and sharp peppermint hit at the same time. A thread of bonfire smoke in clean forest air and fuses with delicious fruity core. Green melon, pear, apricots and dried mango all thriving above a layer of feisty ginger-mint. Five spices oil, anise and shichimi. Hints of Japanese pickled cucumber and smoked honey ham towards the end.

Finish:
More shichimi and red pepper dryness lingering with peated yellow fruits, papaya and dried mango with drops of floral and grassy essence.

Thoughts:
A milestone bottle for me, as this is the very whisky which has opened my eyes to the importance of new make when cask influence does not dominate the proceedings. This dram shows the incredible complexity of Hakushu spirit – forest green notes with sweet fruits, refreshingly clean vibe with a touch of oily peat smoke, subtle saltiness, dry spices and even maritime influence at times. Some might find it too spicy (it is bottled at a staggering 63.1%) and the expression is not solid or straightforward enough, but it reminds me why I am passionate about whisky in the first place, the numerous combinations of flavours, all the nuances, different distillery characters… So much to taste, so much to explore in the world of whisky.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[63.1% • 2014 Bottled • 2000 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Aged 13 Years • 250 Bottles • Matured in second-fill Hogshead • **]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Hakushu Sherry Cask 2014

Style: Sweet and Elegant

Nose:
Brilliant mix of forest fruits, pine and raisins. Tree sap and green grass flickering charmingly. Deeper hides an inkling of smoke and malt, spotless cucumbers and cereal notes rising from the back.

Palate:
Delicious raisins land with perfect weight. Sweetness of pears, dark cherries and oranges congregate at the fore. Followed with clean malts with nice bursts of spices. More forest fruits characters come in with freshness. Slowly dries up with cereal touches and oak towards the end.

Finish:
Sherry malt winking playfully, light tannins and oak emitting warmth to give a long, smooth finish.

Thoughts:
With the Japanese whisky giants, the balance is probably the last thing you would worry about, and this Hakushu performed admirably as well. Divine sherry brushes empower the malt spirit making it so elegant and bright. Sheer quality… Wish I can afford this day in day out.

☆ [Recommended]

[48%・2014 Bottled ・Original Bottling ・No Age Statement ・Limited Release • *]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Hakushu Owner’s Cask 2B 40276

[57%・Distilled in 1992・Bottled in 2011・Original Bottling・Single Cask Release of 253 Bottles]

Nose:

Wood shaves and glue initially for a moment, but henceforth it rewards with a wood fired toasted marshmallow note that transpires basic happiness.  The sweetness from the fruits has been muted but the freshness has been harnessed, with a brush of woodiness laid overtop.  There are hints of acidic dried prunes with a generous splash of caramelised wood char.

Palate & Finish:

Certainly what one would call a fruit bomb, poached strawberries laced with balsamic, ripe apples and peaches with caramelised banana and popcorn, succulent and thirst quashing with that translucent delivery of cucumber jelly brushed with a fine layer of citrus nectar.  The mellow woodiness provides that juxtaposition and gives weight to the dram alongside the thick vanilla note.

The finishing falls on the vaguer spectrum of things as those sweeter and buttery notes run their natural course.

Thoughts:

This is a Hakushu that has been shaped through maturation, it still exhibits those pleasant signature vibes but it certainly comes across as being more mature, more settled down.  It’s a satisfying dram for those who seek the comfort familiarity of quality drams.

 ☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Hakushu Sherry Cask 2014 Release

[48.0%・Bottled in 2014・Original Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

The nose fares subtle at first, prunes simmering away with a background presence of smoked barley. Crafted with finesse, the sherry led creaminess gives way to bright stone fruits, held together with just a brush of glue.

Palate & Finish:

Rich salted caramel on the palate with the fragrant elements from the cask slowly unfolding. The brightness spikes before reverting to a gentler strawberry jam note. Toasted granola with just enough peat in the background to be noticeable.

That minimal peat note serves to bring out a chocolate-y note, all the while the dry spices interacts with the creamy malt, alongside a wee playful touch of fructose.

Thoughts:

I suppose I am quite particular when it comes to distillery characters, a heavily sherried Hakushu can lose touch with its signature forest pine note that’s most alluring. This does not warrant criticisms of course, a well constructed dram is tasty regardless of where it’s from, though I suppose one can’t help but long for that little something that’s missing.

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Hakushu Heavily Peated Bottled in 2012

[48.0%・Bottled in 2012・Original Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

A delicate sweet smoke on the nose, cucumbers and forest pines. It doesn’t feel like it’s heavily peated, the peat is clean. The freshness of green fruits is truly lovely with just a hint of vanilla and a brush of honey. The woody peat and green papaya notes come out after a while with just a sprinkle of peppery spices. This beauty is rather shy, taking her time to lure you in. Then on the very back end, fragrant sweet pasture, salted caramel and a lime zing. It should really be bottled into a perfume.

Palate & Finish:

A refreshing sweetness of cucumbers, green apples and limes hits the palate first, then the salted caramel fudge comes on to add to the chewiness. The peat then develops subtly to add more substance to this sophisticated gem.

The finishing is as tender as a warm spring night, with the fresh peat and the oak married together in harmony. The light spices behave youthfully and playfully and it’s just plain wonderful.

Thoughts:

A.K.A. “Tender is the Oriental Night”..

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Hakushu 25 Years Old No. 2297

[48.0%・25 Years Old・Bottled Circa. 2010-2014・Official Bottling・General Release]

Nose:

A lovely merging of pine, cucumber, vanilla and subtly oaky smoke on the nose. A slight earthiness and delicately smoked bacon on the backend.

Palate & Finish:

On the palate, honey, cucumber, green apples and sugar cured cucumbers.

A soft finish of spices. Such class and elegance. Silky pasture, a tender touch of vanilla and refreshing peat placing you on a summer field in shades of green.

Thoughts:

A.K.A. “One fine picnic date”..

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas