Hakushu 12 years old 70cl 43% ABV and Distiller’s Reserve 70cl 43% ABV
I recently picked up this Hakushu No Age Statement from Sainsbury’s supermarket along with the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, both these whiskies are two 2014 Spring releases from Suntory. Seeing I already had a bottle of Hakushu 12 year old I decided to see what differences are present between these sibling malts, and if the around £20 price gap is any loss in quality. The Hakushu is a lightly peated whisky from Suntory and is also a component of the Hibiki blended range.
First off the Hakushu 12 years old. Colour: light gold.
Nose: both whiskies had a splash of water and were left to sit. I found both opened up greatly with this treatment. A very rich and sweet nose on the 12yr old. Honey, vanilla and dry Sherry. Sweet Bourbon cask in the background. Balanced peat smoke, a supporting character adding depth to what could be a light whisky. Slightly phenolic. Spicy with orange peel.
Palate: a medium, smooth and slightly spicy body. Sweet and spicy moving onto dry Sherry. Then fragrant characterful peat smoke comes in. Cucumber. Citrus hits. Some sourness in the middle like the Hibiki 12 years old. Chewy cereal.
Finish: smooth mouth coating wood of the cask. Light smoke. Delicate but complicated.
Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve. Colour: Pale gold
Nose: Very fresh and young. More a fruity Sherry than the dry Sherry of the 12yr old. Bananas, coconut and apples. Pear drops. A more perfumed fragrant smoke. Good maturation, though not as rich as the 12yr old. After 10 minutes sitting in the glass the smoke becomes more developed and peaty.
Palate: a light to medium body that’s juicy and spicy. You get a medium dry Sherry. The smoke is more present and to the front of the flavours, due to both light and heavily peated malts being used. You then get sweetness with bags of citrus, lemons. It’s grassy, herbal and floral. This may be young whisky but you can taste that quality casks were used and it has decent maturation.
Finish: light, woody and delicate. Fresh wood with a bit of smoke. Some dry spice. A finish of good length that doesn’t quickly disappear into nothing.
To sum up these are both very good whiskies. The quality is comparable between the two. With the Distiller’s Reserve you get a fresh, vibrant and herbal drink, that still has satisfying complexity. Like the 12 year old this would work great as a pre-dinner high ball with club soda and ice. The extra money you pay for the 12 year old gets you a richer and deeper whisky with a more lasting finish. You can’t go wrong with either, both are a quality dram to enjoy.