Hakushu 18 year – revisiting a favourite

After packing for an impromptu trip to Amsterdam, I decided to treat myself by revisiting one of my favourite Japanese whiskies – the Hakushu 18 year.

The choice

Years ago Suntory came to Mumbai to explore the Indian market. My friend and I were introduced to their range and even from the first sip, the Hakushu whiskies stood out for me as far more exceptional than their better known Yamazaki cousins.

Since I picked up my first bottle in Singapore, the price has steadily risen. On my last trip to Tokyo, my quest was for lesser known Japanese whiskies, so I skipped re-stocking this favourite yet found even there it was inching into to the more expensive category.

There are just a few drams remaining in my last bottle and I’ve jealously guarded them… storing it now for several years.

Hakushu 18 year

Hakushu 18 year

The tasting notes

So… after such a long time, has my memory of this delightful whisky faded? Has the whisky itself stood the test of time despite its storage?

  • Nose: Vanilla sweet, fresh grass with just the lightest tickle of peat, it then warms into a deeper note of cherries, almost floral
  • Taste: More spice than I remembered, a delightful burn that reveals multiple elements – a hint of leather and smoke, perhaps plum too?
  • Finish: Even though the bottle was opened more than a year ago… the finish lingered… no harshness, a touch of smoke, a drop of honey, slightly nutty oaky elements emerged after a minute

Conclusion

My memories were of an exquisite nuanced whisky… one that had multiple elements and needed time to distill and describe the different notes and flavours. The fresh grass nose was more subdued than I remembered however it is no surprise to have dulled after being stored in an open bottle for so long.

Also, when I first tried the Hakushu 18, it was before I sampled Irish potstill whiskies. Sampling now, I’m reminded of Yellow Spot or Redbreast – both superb whiskies.

So is it still a favourite? Well… it would certainly remain in my recommended list however may not be a priority to replace when the last drop of this bottle is gone… more because of its current price point than preference.

Any other opinions? (aside from castigating me for storing whisky for so long!)

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