Japanese Whiskies are a new love for me, and thanks to a dear friend of mine back in Malaysia, I got to taste my first Hakushu from Suntory back in December, and I haven't looked back since.
This same friend then sent my family a bottle of The Yamazaki 12 Years Single Malt Whisky as a house-warming present when we moved to our home in Auckland some months back, and it's been amazing to be able to compare and contrast two such beautiful, distinct whiskies.
The Yamazaki is Japan's premier single malt with a delicate and elegant taste and layers of complex aromas. It first came into market in 1984 and was the first seriously marketed Japanese single malt whisky. It has a rich flavor and good body, with hints of vanilla, toffee and cloves and what I call 'winter spice' with a smooth, lingering aftertaste. It is easy to see why this whisky has won so many awards all over the world - it is incredibly easy to love (and drink)!
The Hakushu 12 Years Single Malt Whisky on the other hand, is fresher and crisper. There is plenty of fruit on the palate, and it is vibrant and soft at the same time, and so incredibly smooth that it is one of the few whiskies I enjoy drinking straight. This is also award-winning, and has recently won 1st place in the 'Best World Whiskey' Category in the 2015 International Whisky Competition.
It was incredibly difficult to choose a favorite as I thoroughly enjoyed them both, but because I really enjoyed the softness and sweetness of The Hakushu, I'd say this one wins the Suntory Whiskies competition for me.