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Hakushu Bourbon Barrel

Time for another Suntory whisky. The Hakushu distillery is located in the Southern Japanese Alps, where there are ‘untouched forests, mountains, and pure waters’ to make for a pretty good whisky. Hakushu whisky is generally peated, and the Hakushu Bourbon Barrel sees this peated whisky get put straight into first-fill bourbon barrels. I’ve previously tried the Hakushu Heavily Peated, which I found to be a very enjoyable whisky, so I was quite looking forward to the Bourbon Barrel – which is bottled at 48.20%.

Colour: eucalyptus honey. On the nose: Wave of citrusy sweetness. Lemons, leading into a honeyed mead. A buttery, almost light cheesy note to this, which then blends into vanilla. Very elegant stuff.

In the mouth: gentle and light on the tongue, and with a sincere lead-in of malted barley. Somewhere in there I get a sense of smoke, but it’s far off. Vegetative, yet it starts to get a little sweeter. Grapefruit? Voignier perhaps. It’s nicely balanced, but overall very straightforward. There just doesn’t seem to be much life in the flavours – the key note seems to be that sweet malt, a little heat and spice – but it’s rather two-dimensional compared to, say, the Hakushu Heavily Peated. And it’s a touch vinegary on the finish, as well – like a white wine that’s been left open for too long.

So, it didn’t quite work for me. A bottle of this will cost around £65 – personally, if you’re curious about a Japanese whisky, I’d suggest the Heavily Peated instead. Hit the banner above and search for Hakushu, because there are a few more there that you might be tempted by instead of this. Disappointing.

Mark

I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine and The Scottish Sporting Gazette among other publications. I do other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview.

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