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.


I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine, among other publications, and have been a whisky judge for competitions including the World Whiskies Awards. I've done 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 marketing. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *