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.