Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Hakushu and Yamazaki Distilller’s Reserves

A couple of blended single malts from iconic, Suntory owned distilleries in Japan.  This is one of the few recent TWE masterclasses I’ve missed but JS sorted me out with samples from his bottles.  Wonderful stuff!
Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve, 42% A+
japan_hak16Nose - Lovely soft, waxy crayons and ripe stone fruit.  Gentle, polite, but deliciously sweet.  This is fabulous!  Lovely balance, a little tropical bubblegum, a little furry peach, just a back hit of peat.  Beautiful nose - maybe a little one dimensional but totally made up for by the balanced, fruity wax.
Body - A little more straightforward on the palate, although still balanced and polite.  A good, balanced blended malt, running between peat, bamboo and toffee sweetness.
Finish - Medium, sweet toffee near the end.  Wood sour develops slowly and comfortably near the end.  A very good, 4/4, respectful Japanese blended malt.
What’s not good about it: Almost ordinary in delivery, although ticking most boxes along the way.
What’s good about it:  Wonderful nose - particularly for the price.  Great balance and smooth delivery throughout, interesting wood.  Seriously drinkable.
Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, 43% A⊕
japan_yam29Nose - Same theme as the Hakushu, with additionally strawberry chews, raspberry laces, dried cherries and lots of warm, boiled sugar.  Intensely sweet and fruity with a balancing sandalwood and pine wood backing.  Much warmer, darker and very delicious on the nose.  A touch of unlit cigar.  Wonderful stuff.
Body - Sweet toffee, then chilli spice, then bamboo wood and a meaty, toasted satay quality.
Finish - Long, good balance and interest, toasty notes and a real savoury edge coming through.  Drying wood and licked joss sticks just balances the cloying boiled sweets that develop at the end.  Quite a changing finish.  Right at the end there’s an intensely numbing quality that develops - more licked joss sticks and Sichuan peppercorns.
What’s not good about it: Not much - it’s actually a little bit odd but I can’t hold that against it.  Actually if we’re splitting hairs the ABV could be higher and the delivery could have a little more intensity
What’s good about it:  Fabulous nose, all the crayon and drying wood of the Hakushu with additional richness, fruit and sweet shop intensity.  Lovely balance - fire and wood against that red fruit.  Hold on, is this really a £40 bottle of whisky?  It’s amazing.  I’d be impressed with this nose on a whisky twice that.  Blending rocks.

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