[Review] Single Malt Hakushu 18year

Following Yamazaki in the first issue, I would like to introduce Hakushu 18 Year Old, another single malt whisky from Suntory.

Keizo Saji, the second generation master blender, decided that he wanted to make a whisky with a different taste from Yamazaki, which was made at the oldest distillery in Japan, so he built a new distillery at the foot of Mt. In pursuit of the delicious water that is essential for whiskey production, he searched all over Japan for a suitable place for a distillery and arrived at Hakushu. We hope you will enjoy Hakushu 18 Year Old, which is poured after 18 years of maturation in an environment blessed with nature.

1. Manufacturer

Suntory Spirits Co.

Established 1899
Headquarters location2-3-3 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-8631, Japan
Owned distillery●Japan
Yamazaki Distillery, Hakushu Distillery, Chita Distillery
●Scotland
Ardmore distillery, Glengilly distillery, Auchentoshan distillery, Bowmore distillery, Laphroig distillery
●Ireland
Cooley distillery, Kilbeggan distillery
●United States
Jim Beam distillery, Maker’s Mark distillery
●Canada
Hiram Walker distillery, Alberta distillery

2. Distillery

Suntory Hakushu Distillery

Location 2913-1 Toribaru, Hakushu-cho, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi 408-0316, Japan
Start of operation 1973

The Hakushu Distillery was completed in 1973, exactly 50 years after the first whiskey was produced in Japan, in a lush forest of 820,000 square meters at the foot of Mount Kai Komagatake in the Southern Alps, blessed with abundant nature.
The brewing water is surrounded by the moist atmosphere of the forest, and the Hakushu malt is made with pure and soft natural water from the Southern Alps, polished by granite. The malt is matured over a long period of time in the changing seasons that are unique to Japan, and is the source of the clean, aromatic Hakushu flavor.
In 2014, the company spent 1 billion yen to add four more pot stills, bringing the total number of stills to 16. A wide variety of pot stills of different sizes and shapes are used to make different types of sake. The storage room is a rack type with a high ceiling. The temperature and humidity are not controlled by hand, but are left to nature.

1973 Hakushu distillery was built.
1994 Release of Hakushu 12 year
2006 Release of Hakushu 18 year
2008 Release of Hakushu 25 year

Image credit: Suntory Official Forest Distillery

For more information about Hakushu Distillery, please see this article.

3. Product name and photo

Single Malt Hakushu 18year

4. Features

Image Exhibit: Product Lineup|Single Malt Whisky Hakushu|Suntory

Deep aroma and a hint of smokiness, like ripe fruit

It has the deep taste and aroma that only a long matured malt can provide while maintaining its refreshing taste.
The complex richness, sweetness, and rich barrel aroma are in perfect harmony. It also has a pleasant aftertaste with a hint of smokiness. Long-aged malt, more than 18 years old, produces a deep aroma and a hint of smokiness.
The complex richness and sweetness of the malt and the aromatic scent of the oak are in perfect harmony.
Enjoy the smoky and pleasant aftertaste.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromasMelon, mango, milk caramel, and a hint of smokiness
TasteHoney-like sweetness, sweet and sour
AftertasteRipe fruit aroma, smoky and pleasant aftertaste

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content43% alcohol by volume
By alcoholSingle malt whisky
Barrel typeHeavy peat, white oak, sherry casks over 18 years old, etc.
Contents700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price27,500 yen (tax included)
Release date2006

5. Award history

  • 2020 ISC Gold Award
  • 2017 ISC Gold Award
  • 2016 ISC Gold Award
  • 2016 SWSC Best Gold Award
  • 2015 SWSC Best Gold Award
  • 2014 ISC Gold Award
  • 2013 ISC Gold Medal
  • 2010 IWSC Gold Medal “Best in Class“
  • 2010 IWSC Gold Medal “Trophy“
  • 2009 ISC Gold Medal
  • 2007 IWSC Gold Medal “Best in Class“
  • 2006 ISC Gold Medal

(1) ISC: International Spirits Challenge (ISC)
(2) SWSC: San Francisco World Spirits Competition
(3) IWSC: International Wine & Spirit Competition

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product NameSuntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu 18year
Volume700ml
Suggested Retail PriceTax included: 27,500 yen

As with Yamazaki ’18, the product is in extremely short supply, so there are no retailers selling it at this price.

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 60,000 yen to 70,000 yen. (*As of April 20, 2021)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo Auction

The lowest bid price on Yahoo Auction was 54,800 yen, the highest was 70,000 yen, and the average was 62,359 yen(based on statistics for the past 120 days from April 20, 2021).

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Mail order sites also sell them for around 71,000 yen to 85,000 yen (*As of April 20, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR SHINKAI

At BAR SHINKAI, which is operated by this website, we offer small amounts of our products such as 1 glass, 45ml: 9,130 yen, 30ml: 6,160 yen, 15ml: 3,080 yen

7. Summary

Although not as expensive as Yamazaki 18 year, Hakushu 18 years is also becoming a very expensive product. Naturally, there is no doubt that the “taste” is superb. I think it’s safe to say that the taste is worth the price, which includes the scarcity value.
It was more than 18 years ago, in the year 2000, that the original spirit that produced Hakushu 18 Year was produced. At that time, whisky consumption in Japan was on a downward spiral, and no one predicted that whisky would explode in popularity in the future. I think it will remain high for at least another 10 years.

■Check out other articles about Hakushu.

Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky

If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.

(1).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue

In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery

created by Rinker
¥1,320
(2022/07/04 05:27:37時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(2). Japanese Whisky as an Education for Business

This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled “Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business” .
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.

(3). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
¥957
(2022/07/04 04:51:38時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(4). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whisky, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.

created by Rinker
repicbook(リピックブック)株式会社
¥1,870
(2022/07/04 05:46:25時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(5). Whiskey Rising

This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whisky can be found.

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