$$$ — 43% ABV — 12 Years
Opened on the semicentennial of the Yamazaki distillery, Suntory looked to develop a Japanese whisky for Japanese palates. Something delicate and fresh and green, adjectives not often used to describe Japanese whisky, which had been rather faithfully replicating Scotch since the turn of the century. The result was The Hakushu.
Not seen too often outside of Japan, this single malt is very obviously influenced by the Irish, but instead of veering into the floral like Redbreast does, The Hakushu is intensely herbal, and not even with expected notes like sage or rosemary or tarragon. No, this is distinctly and bizarrely a parsley flavor.
This is a product that intends to tie itself very closely with its environment. Hakushu means "white sandbar," named for the sandy soil made by nearby the Ojira and Jingu River deltas, which also supply the distillery with fresh water. It's high elevation on the side of Mount Kaikomagatake shows in the slow-aged, straw yellow color of this 12 year whisky. The distillery also sponsors a nearby bird conservatory.