Cigar Aficionado

It's Suntory Whisky Time, Again

Suntory, the Japanese whisky giant that also has holdings in Scotland, has launched another single malt in the American market. Hakushu 12-Year-Old brings to three (along with the Yamazaki single malts and Hibiki blends) the number of that company’s brands available in the United States.

Suntory turned to the second distillery it built in Japan for this latest expression, and makes a point of trumpeting its mountainous location as having informed the whisky. Extremely pure water and plush forests originally brought the Suntory to this relatively remote location in what’s called the “Japanese Alps.” Granite mountains filter the water and the area is home to 6,000 indigenous plants. The climate is also chillier than at the Yamazaki distillery by an average of about 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hakushu distillery was erected in 1973 (50 years after Yamazaki was founded) and was, for a time, the largest malt distillery in the world as well as being at one of the highest altitudes.

Whatever causes its particular taste profile, Hakushu 12-Year-Old should be a welcomed addition to any liquor locker with an emphasis on Eastern flavors.

Hakushu 12-Year-Old (43 percent alcohol or 86 proof, $60)

APPEARANCE: Light lemon color, delicate legs that are medium quick.

NOSE: Very fruity, pear- and plum-like, at first, it reveals its complexity after a moment as the nose develops through wood and notes into some bamboo and tea bouquets.

PALATE: This is where the whisky shows its indigenous character with ginger, pine, bamboo, mint, subtle spices and the return of pears and plums with banana as well.

FINISH: The ending, while not long, ushers in tea flavors and features the return of the peat.