Nose: Extremely clean and fresh with handsome subtle oak (slightly toasted?). Sliced baked banana, vanilla crepes sprinkled with malt powder, a lovely suggestion of Umeshu (plum liqueur), and teasing aromas of Chicos, which are at the forefront of sweetness. Mid-ground in my opinion is where the true evidence of Hakushu lays - fresh forest pine, wet ferns, green pine cones, green apple skins, and light concentrated sweet lime.
Taste: White pepper, nutmeg on semi-baked opened green banana (skin intact), subtle oak (again slightly toasty?), bitter but pleasant malt, and green apple skins. Extremely clean mouthfeel with an interesting element of chopped candied green cherry (fruit cake type). Very refreshing and it feels right with the humidity right now here in Japan.
Finish: Short but it feels ever so right. The white pepper soldiers on along with the nutmeg. There is a pleasant acidity still in play - green crispy apple skin.
Comment: According to various Japanese websites this pure malt ceased production in the late 90’s. It has taken me a good four years to find a bottle so that in itself indicates the rarity of this clean, lovely malt. Apparently Suntory used a charcoal (Birch wood) filtration process for the malt, which was the in thing at the time to achieve clean cut, spring like qualities for easy drinking. I’ve always said that the best pure malt produced by Suntory is their defunct Hokuto 12yo. However, this Southern Alps gives it a run for its money. I’m going to do a back to back so I will let you know the end result of the two (which one I favour the most). Then again they are in different leagues - flavour profile wise.