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.
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.
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.