Showing posts with label Hibiki 12. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hibiki 12. Show all posts

Hibiki 12 Years Review

“A Nose You Won’t Forget”

Country: Japan
Brand: Suntory Hibiki
Type: Blended Japanese Whisky
Age:  12 Years
Alcohol: 43%

Colour: Golden Amber

Nose: Soft and Attractive with Malty, Fruity and Floral tones. No aggressive notes whatsoever. Immediately you smell something that you won't find in Scottish whiskies. I'm sure the Ex-Plum Liqueur barrels made of Japanese Oak are responsible for that. On the Nose the Hibiki 12 bears more resemblance with
a good Bourbon than with Scotch Whisky. I find Dried Plums and Apricots, Rum soaked Raisins, Orange Marmalade, Apple Pie, Chocolate Milk, Butterscotch, Cherries, Banana, Vanilla, Resin, Oak, Fresh Coconut Milk, Sweet Barley, Soft Grains, Nuts, Papaya Cream, Melon, Cinnamon, Ginger and a little Nutmeg. On the Nose, the Hibiki 12 Years is more accessible than its older brother, the 17 Years. You can smell the 12 Years for an hour and it won't be boring. Every time you discover new Aromas. The Alcohol is nicely integrated. I really like it!

Taste: Lots of Citrus with Orange and Lemon Peel, light Sherry, Oak, Malt, Soft Grains, Roasted Nuts, Honey, Plums, Cherries, Banana, Pineapple, Vanilla, Dried Fruits, Clove, Ginger and Nutmeg. On The Palate, the Grain Alcohol is much more noticeable. 

Finish: Middle-Long and quite Dry but with a nice combination of Sweet, Bitter and Sour. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Citrus, Cherries, Plums, Red Apples, Oak, Banana, Cocoa Butter, light Varnish, light Pepper, Ginger and Nutmeg.  

I added a little Water and the Grains become more noticeable on the Nose. Palate and Finish do not benefit from the added Water as well. Better sip it neat. 

Rating: 86  

Nose: 22.5 – Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 – Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: Normally I don’t pay too much attention to the packaging but it needs to be said that the bottle used for the Hibiki Blend is a very nice one. It's practically a decanter. 

Hibiki 12 Years contains some 30 different whiskies. At its heart you will find the Malt Whiskies from Yamazaki and Hakushu alongside the Grain Whisky from Chita. The whiskies used for Hibiki are matured in Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks and partly in Japanese Oak barrels that used to contain Plum Liqueur. Before bottling, the Hibiki 12 is filtered through Bamboo Charcoal. The price varies a lot from country to country but on average you will pay around 75 US Dollars for this Blend (April 2015) 
Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Great Nose!

Conclusion: The Word Hibiki in Japanese has a lot of meanings. Amongst them are " Collection of Reflecting Sounds" and "Harmony". In the end, that’s what every serious blender would want to achieve. To create a collection of reflecting flavours that, once brought together, form a unique harmonious combination while maintaining or even enhancing the strengths of individual components. So let's see if the Hibiki 12 Years deserves its name. 

Let me start by saying that this Japanese Blend has Scottish, Bourbon and Local influences. The result is a spirit with a clear own personality that you probably will be able to identify when you smell and taste it again. I love the Nose of the Hibiki 12. It smells and feels almost like a Single Malt Whisky as the Grain notes are quite Soft and hardly noticeable. You can easily spend an hour nosing this Blend as New Aromas will keep popping up. Lovely stuff. Unfortunately the Palate and the Finish can't quite deliver what the Nose promises. The Grain Alcohol is more noticeable, although in no way as harsh as in many of the Scottish Blends. So while Palate and Finish are still Good, they miss the magic of the Nose. When compared to the more expensive 17 Years, I find the Hibiki 12 years much more accessible on the Nose while Palate and Finish are reasonably similar. In my opinion it does not pay off to spend the extra bucks on the 17 Years. I conclude that the Hibiki 12 Years certainly represents a "Collection of Reflecting Sounds", especially on the wonderful Nose. On the Palate and in the Finish, the Grain Alcohol is a bit too present to call it completely harmonious. Still, it comes very close and the Hibiki 12 Years is a Blend I fully recommend despite its high price. "Hotondo Hibiki", We're Almost There!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    April 30, 2015

Stills at the Hakushu Distillery