Does this highball in a can taste as good as a homemade highball? 

Over the past decade, Japanese whisky sales have skyrocketed, with the spirit becoming so sought after globally that some famous brands have become incredibly hard to find.

One of those hard-to-find brands is Suntory’s Hakushu, which used to be widely available at places like convenience stores, where it sat on shelves alongside other brands until the boom, but now you might have to visit several stores to find it, with some places even stocking it behind the counter.

▼ Our reporter K. Masami loves Hakushu so much she likes to stock up on the mini bottles when she can.

The single malt whisky is produced in Suntory’s Hakushu distillery nestled in the forests at Mt. Kaikomagatake in Japan’s southern alps, where the fresh mountain air and water are said to contribute to its unique flavour.

▼ “The distillery surrounded by forest”

It’s been 100 years since Suntory’s founder launched the company’s whisky-making operations, and 50 years since the completion of the Hakushu distillery, so to celebrate, Suntory announced in February that it would be making its Hakushu whisky more widely available in the form of a canned highball for a limited time.

It was a long wait from announcement to the 6 June release, but our patience eventually paid off as Masami was finally able to get a taste of the drink this week, and anticipating high demand, she bought three, just in case she never saw them again.

Masami was curious to find out if the canned highball would taste as good as one of the highballs she regularly makes at home with her own bottles of Hakushu. So she followed Suntory’s recommendation to pour the highball from the can into a glass with ice for best flavour…

…and then she made herself a highball, using soda water and a measure of whisky from one of her Hakushu mini bottles.

▼ Canned highball (left), homemade highball (right)

The first thing Masami noticed was a slight difference in colour, with the canned version looking a lot paler than the one she made. Taking a sip of hers first, she could taste the whisky’s unique verdant freshness as it cut through the subtle smokey notes.

Raising the canned version, Masami took a sip, and found that it was slightly lighter in flavour and more refreshing. She’d half expected a result like that in a canned product, but what took her by surprise was how good it tasted. It didn’t have a ‘canned drink’ flavour to it, and it tasted like a Hakushu highball you’d get in a glass at an izakaya tavern.

▼ It smelt good, tasted good, and had a solid Hakushu flavour.

For 600 yen, this was a quality highball, and Masami would even go so far as to say it’s a cheap price to pay for a whisky this good. Plus, it’s a whole lot easier to simply crack the tab on a can rather than go to the trouble of mixing your own drink, which is another great reason to stock up on these if you’re lucky enough to come across them.

Now that Masami has gotten a taste of the canned highball, she’s on a mission to buy more of them…so she can pair them with her chocolate twigs.

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