I hosted an online tasting event, and one of the attendees mentioned while chatting that he had this bottle, opened, in his cabinet. Knowing about the hype and the ridiculous price of such a piece nowadays, I eagerly traded some of my good stuff for a sample of this (win-win, since he admittedly didn't care for the Hakushu very much).
This is a 43.5% ABV version with seems to have been an early duty free release for the European market. Can't swear by it, but from what I've heard, it should be similar to the regular 43.0 version. Here we go!
0.8 (Deep gold)
Light and clean, fresh fruit, floral and with a slight but discernible aroma of peat. The smokiness stays squarely in the background and seems very well integrated with the freshness. Going a bit deeper, we find menthol and grass.
The peat is still minor but does show itself a bit more here. Also more fruit, leaning towards apricots and peaches.
Warm, spicy. Oaky. Malty. Again very clean and a no-frills finish. Pleasantly long, not very intense.
Much better than the Hakushu 12 (review still pending) and a solid, thorough and all-around well-done whisky. A bit of complexity but overall straightforward. Just like the Yamazaki 18, great but not even close to being worth its price.
82 / 100