When it comes it Japanese spirits, it’s natural to think of Whisky. But Suntory is trying to change that perception around with the release of their white spirits. The brand recently released its Roku Gin but has now upped their game with the release of the Haku Vodka.
“At the House of Suntory, craftsmanship has always translated to sourcing the best ingredients, and elaborating on complex and innovative techniques to create unrivalled quality products”, says Kazuyuki Torii, lead Suntory Specialist (White Spirits).
“HAKU Vodka was developed from a very specific vision, to create a truly authentic and meticulously crafted Japanese product with a distinct and balanced taste”.
The name HAKU Vodka stems from the Japanese kanji, translating to ‘white’. This kanji is rooted in the word ‘hakumai’, meaning ‘Japanese white rice’. The spirit’s name is elevated through its nuanced meaning to invoke ‘junpaku’ – ‘pure white’, a connotation to its untainted brilliance.
So what does that mean for the taste? Beam Suntory’s Australian Brand Ambassador, Cameron Pirret explains. “This Vodka has a little more weight to the palette, a little more on the nose and a little more flavour, which means it still works classically like vodka in vodka, lime & soda and all the other vodka cocktails you like.
“I think people are looking to have a little more flavour than they do from the super clean, flavourless, odourless, colourless styles of vodka. For those who enjoy a martini or a more sort of straight-up solid drink, it’s going to have a bit more texture and interest there for them.”
Haku Vodka’s production first starts in Kagoshima, Kyushu: After fermenting Japanese white rice with koji rice to create a ‘moromi’ or mash, the mash is then distilled through pot stills to create a rice spirit or shochu.
The spirit is then distilled a second time through two separate processes via a pot still and a column still. The distillates are then blended together and filtered through bamboo charcoal in Osaka, to refine its texture and flavour.
“You get those lovely silky, oily and robust textures you would expect from a pot still, and you still get those cleaner, lighter notes you’d expect from a column,” said Pirret.
Haku Vodka is lighter and softer on the palate than many other vodkas around, which makes it easier to drink for newbies to the spirit, as it has none of that harsh aftertaste. It has a delicate fragrance of rice – a ghost of its earlier form as a rice shochu – and a subtle floral touch that accompanies its smooth finish.
The vodka has a clean and clear flavour and a remarkably smooth and mellow character, created by the minerals from the bamboo charcoal filter. The use of bamboo charcoal for water filtration is one of the fundamentals of Japanese culture and goes back to ancient Japan where charcoal was said to “sweeten” the water for tea.
It is known for its incredible filtering ability, which comes from its super-porous structure – 3 times more porous cavities per gram than other wood charcoal. “So what it means, it retains a bit more weight and a bit more oily sort of flavour,” said Pirret. “It also does sort of impart a grassy earthy sort of finish to the vodka as well, which is quite nice.”
Suntory’s founder, Shinjiro Torii, had a philosophy dedication to craftsmanship and with that a relentless pursuit of perfection, meticulous attention to detail and commitment to quality. And Pirret believes that this shines through with the Huka Vodka release.
“People who are drinking vodka are starting to demand increased quality, in the same way as has been seen with pother spirits. In the same way that people have looked for nicer whiskey and nicer gin, vodka drinkers are starting to demand nicer vodka and they will find it in Haku.
Nose: A soft aroma played up by the sweet, delicate floral aroma of rice.
Taste: A rich taste that gradually envelops the mouth with the natural sweetness and complex flavour of the rice.
Finish: A smooth finish with a sophisticated, pleasantly lingering sweetness thanks to the bamboo charcoal filtration process.
ABV: 40% vol. 700ml
30mls (1oz) Haku Vodka
120mls (4oz) Soda Water
Add cubed ice to a highball glass and stir to chill the glass. Add Haku and stir to chill the vodka. Top with Soda & garnish with a lime twist.
Haku Umani Mary
30mls (1oz) Haku Vodka
120mls (4oz) Tomato Juice
5mls (0.2oz) Lemon Juice
Stir all ingredients and serve over cubed ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a shiso leaf, black pepper, salt rim and a lemon wedge.
30mls (1oz) Haku Vodka
10mls (0.4) Yuzu
20mls (0.6oz) Sugar Syrup
90mls (3oz) Soda Water
Shake all ingredients apart from the soda. Serve over ice and top with soda. Garnish with a lemon twist.
60mls (2oz) Haku Vodka
20mls (0.6oz) Sake
Add all ingredients and stir. Garnish with three Edamame beans on a cocktail stick and serve straight up in a Martini glass.
HAKU Vodka will be available at all key retailers across Australia. For more information on Haku Vodka go to hakuvodka.suntory.com