Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hakushu Heavily Peated 2012 due at end of June



Suntory announced May 29 that it will release the 2012 version of its Hakushu heavily peated single malt across Japan on June 26. There will be 4,200 bottles and will cost about 9,000 yen for 700ml. This is a sequel to the successful 2012 sherry cask bottling earlier this year.

12 comments:

Ἀντισθένης said...

I really appreciate this blog and have been doing some ordering of Japanese whiskeys because of it. So far:
- Yamazaki 12
- Yoichi 10
- Hakushu 12
- Miyagikyo 12
The Hakushu might be the best in my amateur opinion, but the Miyagikyo is more my style. The other two I won't buy again.

I have these ordered by mail, which sounded like great deals at under 2500y/500ml:
- Nikka from the barrel
- Nikka Pure Malt White
Thanks 'nonjatta' for the recommendations.

Which brings me to my point. The last two should be great value for money, but the first two at the top certainly were not, and the second two at the top really were not when in Japan I can by Scottish scotch as good for less.

Good thing Japan has a gift culture where price is more important than content. Some of these are the 'fifty-dollar watermelon' of the whisky world.

[sɐ mʌn ta] said...

I'm not sure I entirely understand your question there -- I agree that some price inflation is uncalled for (and unfortunate this whisky-lover's tiny wallet), but I don't think making a general ruling about non-age statement bottlings is a good idea. If anything, providing high-quality non-age statement bottlings is a good way to get people off their high-horse of "the older, the better." (For the record, the Nikka Pure Malt White at 5000y/liter is a good value, but doesn't compare to a Hakushu Heavily Peated or Sherry cask in terms of complexity or originality. )

It's true that knowing the ages of whiskies used for any particular bottling would be interesting, though not necessarily as useful as most consumer's would like to think. I understand why the marketing team of Suntory might opt out of age-statement bottlings for special Hakushu and Yamazaki bottlings, given the number of consumers that still use the age of a whisky as a crutch for quality rating when tasting. While no one could argue that the age of whisky effects certain characteristics, it does little to suggest the level of quality one can expect. As my circle of whisky friends often say, "if it's bad when it's made, waiting 20 years won't make it good."

[sɐ mʌn ta] said...

Oops -- I forgot to mention how much I enjoy this blog ! Many thanks for the Japanese whisky-world updates !

Stefan said...

I agree with Dramtastic. I feel that the price of whisky released by the bigger players is, in general, reasonable / fair / easy to understand (save for the odd ultra-premium release, but that's another story). Lately, I've been feeling that it's actually the so-called "smaller" companies whose prices have started to spiral out of control. Almost as if to say, "well, we don't have the economies of scale to fall back onto, so don't complain about the prices we charge" - as if the small size of the enterprise is a "carte blanche" to slap whatever price they want on a bottle. I am sure consumers won't put up with this forever. You only need to read various reviews of the the first Chichibu OBs (The First and The Floor Malted) to realize that many people who have bought these have set aside their concern about the price for the time being because of the novelty value, but that's bound to wear off. Will we see Chichibu's priced at 3,000 or 4,000 yen in the future (like the Glenglassaugh Revival - which offers a good comparison, I think)? Does anyone know of any distillery outside Japan who sells their 3YO (single malt) at 100 USD? (Seriously, this is not a rhetoric question - I am really wondering if there are examples!!)

Anonymous said...

I don't really see the Chichibu price as 'problematic'. It's a limited first release, not a general bottling and also there to offset inital costs in the first 10 years. If you look at Kilchoman's first releases they were priced in the same ballpark I believe.

Stefan said...

it all depends on how you define "limited"... Off the top of my head, I think there were about 7,000 or 8,000 bottles of the Chichibus. I think there will never be a time when there will be a "general release" in the sense that you're thinking of, seeing as they can only fill around 400 casks a year. Anyway, I'm glad you don't see it as problematic. Most bloggers and many whisky enthusiasts that I know certainly don't see it that way, though.

Anonymous said...

Well if that pricing scheme continues with the coming bottlings this will be another story...

Jeroen said...

Abhainn Dearg 3yo 50cl inaugural bottle is priced at a whopping 150 £ in the UK. It's a limited release of 2011 bottles, but not sold out yet. I guess this is probably due to this very steep pricing. I've also read somewhere that the whisky is not particularly promising, but nevertheless as an inaugural limited release it stays a collectors item, I guess. Anyway, it does seem pretty exceptional however to have 3yo single malts priced as high as those in Japan. A 3yo Kilchoman goes for about 45 £. All in all I'm always amazed how expensive those Japanese malts are compared to the Scotch malts on offer in the very same Japanese liquor stores.

Btw, to nonjatta and all its contributors: Thanks for this wonderfull website!!

Nonjatta said...

I am getting the distinct feeling that my ideas on age statements as regards these Suntory offerings are off the mark, but I would be a bit more confident of my ground on the other side of the issue: ie. defending the relatively high prices charged by some of the small makers. My view is that these firms are really a large reason why Japanese whisky is so interesting. Quite apart from my feelings about the effort and expertise that goes into making these whiskies available, I think the willingness of buyers to reward these companies innovation is why this whisky isn`t just lying inaccessible in the holdings of unmotivated and ignorant firms with little idea about the international whisky market. The vibrancy of the market these firms have help create is why we have all this new distilling and careful handling of the existing stock.

I absolutely see the sense in the other side of the argument and I think that it is great that we are having these discussion, but I don`t think I am alone in my way of thinking.

Michio said...

The Anonymous poster was me, didn't have my login info on the cellphone...

Chap said...

I've paid what to me are very high prices for Japanese whiskies (Karuizawa specifically) because it's great stuff and not available in the States. The Japanese malts are high in price, but they're selling...so clearly they know what their market will bear. Unfortunately for my wallet, anyway.

In the case of the age statement, I'd note that other distilleries are trying to do the same thing, with varying success. In Hakushu's case, the open bottle for me to taste sealed the deal, age statement or not.

Finally--I just finished Chris' excellent book. Well done, sir! What enjoyable reading!

Alan Messini said...

I think that the quality of what's in the bottle is more important than an age statement. The quality of recent small batch releases from Suntory have by and large been unimpeachable. The puncheon/bourbon/sherry/heavily peated releases have generally been excellent. And I loved the Chita grain. In the latter case I believe the Chita is 12 years old but has no age statement