Hakashu is the second distillery of Suntory, established in 1973 by Shinjiro Torii and located 700 m high surrounded by forests and mount Kaikomagatake. The name itself means “white sand bark”, which refers to the pale sand around the remote distillery. It is one of the highest distilleries in the world (i.e. compared to highest Scottish distilleries of 355 meters), and mainly focuses on ex-bourbon (as seen in this whisy) and sherry casks. Hakashu distills four types of barley – from unpeated to heavily peated.
This whiskey is a single malt, owned by Kilbeggan and distilled at Cooley distillery, home to brands such as Kilbeggan, Greenore, and Tyrconnell. This whiskey is a bit unique as far as Irish whiskey because it double rather than triple distilled, and it is also peated bringing in smoke and earthy flavours. The whiskey itself is blended from a mix of younger and older whiskies to bring out a good peat character from the younger whiskies as well as maturity and depth from the older whiskies. The name itself, “Connemara” refers to the region of Western Galway, where peat dwells and is cut, and where some of the distillery staff themselves used to cut peat.
This whisky is triple distilled, and matured in sherry casks. It is darker than the other bushmills, hence “black” – the whisky is crafted in the style of a blended scotch from a mix of grain and malt whiskies.
Irish Whiskey is spelled with an “e” rather than the Scottish spelling without the “e” (“whisky”). Why is this? In the mid 1800s, much of the Scottish produced product was, frankly, nasty stuff. However, Ireland was producing lighter, higher quality product – and started to use an “e” in the spelling because they didn’t want to associate with the other nasty “whisky” being produced. At this time, more Irish whisky was drunk in Scotland than other whiskies.
It is quite remarkable how quickly the whisky world is changing, with brands releasing more and more “no-age-statement” whiskies and getting rid of or limiting their other stock. With whisky consumers broadly running after all things new, it is amazing how many new releases are coming out of distilleries that have been producing more or less the same line of products for many years.