Review No.17 – Suntory Kakubin White Label

I don’t know how some of you do it – the prolific, relentless whisky reviews and blogging. It’s impressive dedication and I only wish I had such drive. However, I’m lazy and this is a hobby, but even my laziness has limits. Given I am now working from home, and in between mundane tasks such as re-watching The Wire, staring vacantly at the garden, and walking the dog, I’ve moved to my living room-cum-office (thank god for hyphens) to rattle off a quickfire review of some middle-of-the-road whiskies that I recently finished.

Since I’ve been at home the whiskies in the cabinet have taken quite the battering with the first victims being the bottles with little left or those deemed as disposable during the current lockdown.

Today’s review is Suntory Kakubin, bought from an online auction for £25 many moons ago and which has sat in the darkened recess of the drinks cabinet for too long. This is the White Label release (there’s also a Yellow Label), bottled at a watery 40%, and containing malt whisky from Yamazaki and Hakushu.

Kakubin means Square Bottle and, as you can clearly see evidenced from the below photo, the marks on the bottle are modelled on a turtle. Clearly.

Not Japanese Whisky’s finest moment.

It’s an easy-drinker. Light on the nose, sweet in the mouth, and a faint breeze of a finish. Over in seconds, as my girlfriend says. You could probably put an horrendous dent in a bottle without realising, but it lacks any real character, so much so that only the usual, oft-repeated descriptions could ever apply: vanilla, caramel, sweet, light etc et al blah blah, but for someone such as myself with limited vocabulary that’s probably a good thing.

The thing is, it’s not particularly bad, it’s just bland. I’d score it even less if it was like paint stripper, so I’m not even going to faff about with scoring across 3 criteria on this occasion, purely because it’s one of the most insipid whiskies I have tried – although it is marketed as being ‘perfect for a Highball’, so maybe that plays a part.

I’m just going to give it a solid, even 10/30 and move on.

Stay Safe.

5 thoughts on “Review No.17 – Suntory Kakubin White Label

  1. I know the feeling. I’ve been looking through the samples I’ve collected and few get me excited. Those that I looked forward to have often been not as good as hoped but on the other side of the coin, the some of the ones I had little hope for have been surprisingly pleasant. Now I’m away to work I may just keep going on writing the reviews as drinking not an option…

    It’s kind of a let down when you get an insipid whisky, eh? You don’t know whether to continue wasting time with it, give it away or clean the drains. Had a few recently but started a hot toddy project with them… found a purpose for Jura Journey at least!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Scotty! Hope all is well. Your output puts me to shame: consistent, well-written, and insightful. That’s me back on the horse now though – have several reviews to write, so little excuse not to do them.

      Samples are great, but more often than not I feel you need a bottle to really appreciate the full quality offered. However, recently had some Glen Garioch and was impressed.

      The Kakubin was very boring across all fronts and just ended up being lost in the cupboard for months on end.
      Completely agree on Jura – unsure I’ve had one that has really worked, but I could say that for 3 of Whyte and MacKay’s distilleries (Jura, Dalmore, Tamnavulin), with the jury still out on Fettercairn. Even then there’s no chance I’ll be paying for the 28 YO. Weird core range to introduce with a 12 then jumping to a 28, but think folk have covered that before!

      You away offshore? Stay safe 👍🏻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. In quarantine for a week prior to getting on the boat. Stuck in a hotel room in Aberdeen. My output will reduce slightly now I’m working and will be almost blacked out from Twitter.

        Agree with the samples versus the whole bottle. Sometimes you do need the whole bottle to develop thoughts. The way I approach it is to find a ‘hook’ in the nose, palate or finish – even if I don’t like the whisky initially. Sometimes leaving it 24hrs and going back to the second nip of a mini is enough – certainly that worked for me for Bowmore 15. As you know my blog isn’t about the next new thing but I prefer a gentle amble through the whisky landscape past and present which has revealed all sorts of positive results, even if I didn’t like the whisky overall. For instance the Glen Keith Distillery Edition has an exciting nose but a shocking palate and sour finish. Like the Jura Journey made a good toddy!

        Dalmore? The only one I’ve really enjoyed off the bat was King Alexander, and I can’t really afford to purchase higher than that for a tasting bottle. Tamnavoulin I find a bit insipid but haven’t tasted an age statement one yet. Fettercairn? Haven’t heard a lot of positives about them either, but will get round to tasting.

        Too many drams and not enough time!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ouch, you allowed out of the room for a dander at least!?

        Aye, I’m slowly coming round to lowering my expectations when I open a bottle and acknowledging that it may need a few drams and some time before I can understand or appreciate it fully.

        Although, like the Glen Keith DE, I had a similar experience with Balvenie. See a lot of love for them, but every time I have tried them they have started off wonderfully and then descended in to a pretty average dram. However, finding what you enjoy is all part of the journey.

        As for Dalmore, I have never had one I enjoyed, but also have never gone past the 18. I have heard great things about the KAIII though!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Can get out of the room, but now we are tested I don’t see the sense in wandering just for the chance to catch it. I stand outside in the street for a hour chewing the fat with the other guys, but don’t wander far.

        Balvenie has never been an instant hit for me – you know when you taste a whisky for the first time and you think wow? Never had that with any of their drams. Not that they are bad, but as you say – average.

        Dalmore is the same for me too. Never had one where I truly liked it from the get-go, but KAIII was a good dram. I’d like to get to know it more, but is a little bit too expensive for me to purchase a bottle just for drinking. There are other drams I’d pay more for a bottle to drink, but not a NAS Dalmore.


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