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Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old Japanese Whisky

hibiki 12 year japanese whiskyIn October Japan’s Suntory Limited launched its Hibiki 12-year-old whisky in the United States.  This is good news for U.S. drinkers.

Hibiki 12 Year is a blend of more than 30 handcrafted malt whiskies from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries.  These malts are matched with grain whiskies of the same age that feature a touch of malt matured in Umeshu casks, which were used to age Japanese plum liqueur.  This blend is then topped with a vintage whiskey aged more than 30 years.

I recently sat down with a sample of the highly touted Hibiki 12 Year to test its mettle against other whiskies of the world.

On the Nose

The Hibiki opens with lots of fruit, including oranges and berries, plus a hint of plum, presumably imparted by the plum liqueur casks.  Oak and sweet vanilla follow.  The bouquet gives something new each time you hover over the glass for another sniff.

Taste

On the palate Hibiki is very soft and mellow with oak and delicate, sweet malt flavors, complemented by citrus and pineapple. A bit of spice comes out, but everything works very well together, with no flavor overpowering another.  The finish is very gentle and stays on the palate, with spice flavors intensifying toward the end.

Overall

At just 12 years old, Hibiki is well-rounded, smooth and downright quaffable.  And considering that its blend of more than 30 whiskies comes from just two malt distilleries, it’s a feat of whiskey engineering not to be overlooked by those loyal to Scotland.

Stats

-43 percent Alcohol by Volume
-$55-$60 for a 750ml bottle

CE Rating: ★★★★

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Written by Kevin Gray

1 Comment

  1. dominik mj on the opinionated side of life · November 27, 2009

    Yes – Hibiki is stunning. Japanese Whisky is most of the time really expensive – though just give you a little mellower and a little funkier expression as Scotches.
    Hibiki is different. It is subtile, elegant, harmonious, light – but not heavy on hot alcohol… it is so much.
    It is definitely an unique whisky on the market.
    IMHO it is the smoothest whisky I’ve ever tried – despite the fact, that it is a blend and not a malt!

    It is a beauty!

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