NO spirit is safe. Kavalan and Yamazaki rocked the world from countries producing out the left field. Now the Japanese are coming for your vodka dollar; we expect Haku Vodka to take over bars in short order.
Fan of clean-tasting sake and the further-distilled shochu? You’re going to love what the rice-based spirit from Suntory is going to do to your tipples. It all starts with a fermented rice mash getting distilled twice – going through the sake and shochu phases. The distillate is then passed through a bamboo charcoal filter. This last step leaches any stray, unsavoury notes it can while drawing forth the sweetness and earthiness inherent to rice.
If that last step sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the trick pulled out in fancy Japanese establishments to not only purify pitchers of water while adding a delectable minierality, but to do so with low environmental impact. Using fast-growing bamboo native to the country keeps the footprint even lower.
And it works like a charm. The crystal clear liquid goes down near as easy as water, leaving a barely-perceptible and plesant aftertaste of mild grassiness and floral, sucrose-y notes.
Even the vapours of the liquid are tame. You have to strain at the lip of a Glencairn to even catch a whiff of Haku, and it doesn’t even come close to warming the nostril after intense nosing. We tried.
Sharp-eyed vets will wonder why the brand reads haku rather than shiro, the latter being the far more common pronunciation for the Japanese character for “white”. Marketing aside, the pronunciation was chosen for its association with ‘purity’. But far from being a marketing gimmick, Haku actually delivers on that premise.
WE RECOMMEND: Word of caution, though. If you’re working the home bar, rein in your volume of Haku used. The genteel liquid is still solid 40% ABV, and can sneak up on unsuspecting guests who quaff it too quickly, claiming to barely taste it.