Category Archives: Hibiki

A Mature Face of Suntory: Hibiki 17

As far as bottles go, the Hibiki 17 is first-rate.  Something about this pre-fab decanter is viscerally satisfying.  Not only does it stand out, the girth and heft set it apart.  Here’s the really cool bit: the bottle shape is the same regardless of size.  The duty-free mid-size is a duty-free mid-size decanter.  Even the mini-size comes in a mini-decanter.  And if that wasn’t cool enough, it tastes good, too.

Aesthetics aside, Hibiki 17 is a blend of malt and grain from Suntory’s three distilleries:  Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita.  But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the Hibiki 17 is simply the older relative of the Hibiki 12 – flavor wise they are brothers from a different mother.

Hibki 17
43%ABV 7,980円/$95

Nate’s Impressions:

A warming rich gold pours pleasantly from the aforementioned decanter.  Waxy malts, a touch of salted, mellowing fruit, and a strong current of sugars ride a decently hot nose.  The first sip retains the solid undercurrent of noble sugars, slightly charred grains, marshmallow, and a sugary spice.  The age is respectably palpable in this whisky as it settles into a dense tail of peppery wood notes.  A satisfying, easy-to-enjoy whisky that has traded only a few of the curiously edgy aspects of its relatives for a well-knit, warming complexity.

Chris’ Impressions:

Color: Medium yellow/14k gold

Nose:  Lively alcohol vapor initially, nice oak presence, sweet – an apple tart or apple cake, cake frosting?, dusty

Palate: Deep rich oak, I can tell there is some older whisky in here, some incense and waxy notes, apples and a hint of spice

Finish: Medium-long with oak and a waxy – mizunara note

Comments: A great complex blend that balances being smooth yet interesting.  I know there is a lot of older whisky in this blend, but the price point is a little steep.


Filed under Hibiki, Whisky Impressions

Suntory Hibiki 12 Impressions

Hibiki is Suntory’s line of blended whiskies.  Although there are older Hibiki expression (17, 21 and 30), the US only has the 12.  The Hibiki 12 was tasked with following up Suntory’s resurgence into the US market through the Yamazaki 12 and Yamazaki 18.  I say resurgence because Suntory attempted to crack the US market several decades earlier with some of their more pedestrian blends.  That didn’t go to well for them though.  So here Suntory is again with another blend – will they strike out like before?

Strike one – its a Japanese whisky, still not much name recognition here in the US.  Strike two – its a blend (I have nothing against blends, but unfortunately many still see blends as an inferior product).  Will failing marks on taste be the third strike for this whisky?

Color:  Dark yellow and light orange

Nose:  Dusty, sweet plumb wine – reminiscent of rock sugar, very pleasant and fragrant, honey, sandalwood, not overpowering, but not boring.

Palate:  Smooth, light, oak backbone with sweet grain and cereal notes, well placed incense, licorice, nice plumb wine sweetness in the middle but does not take the entire stage.

Finish:  Medium – oak as well as the plumb wine sweetness.

Comments:  Very well put together blend, soft, delicate and smooth all the way through but at the same time interesting and complex.  This is something that you can sip on for a looooong time.  One of the components to this blend is whisky that was aged in plumb wine (umeshu) casks and it was interesting to taste how it was integrated into this blend.  Although no where near scientific, I pulled out our air tight container of homemade umeshu that has been gathering steam (aging) for the past 5 years to compare the nose and flavors.  The two share a lot in common and I think it works well for the Hibiki.  I have to say that this is a solid whisky and does not strike out swinging on flavor.

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Filed under Hibiki, Whisky Impressions