We’ve had a real thing for Japanese whiskies of late. We’re not alone, as the American cocktail culture has embraced all things Japanese–from whisky to equipment to technique. But more than the allure of drinking faraway spirits, Japanese whiskies simply taste damn good.
Hibiki falls under the Suntory portfolio, a real powerhouse that also includes Hakushu and Yamazaki (plus a little bourbon named Jim Beam). We’ve dabbled in Hibiki 12, but this is our first brush with the 17 year old expression.
Hibiki 17 Year pours amber in the glass with surprisingly delicate aromas. Fruits (lemon, apricot, melon), floral notes like rose petals and a hint of honey sweetness. Take a sip, though, and things move richer with toffee, vanilla, raisins and custard, plus some oak. Toward the finish the oak fades and a delicate sweetness remains, with hints of vanilla and honeyed fruit.
Upon first impression, there seems to be a disconnect from nose to palate. But it works. The fruity and floral beginning gives way to a richer, sweeter end. It’s a smooth transition, and one that’s bridged by just the right amount of oak. This is a delicate, well-made whisky with plenty of character. Hibiki 17 is a balanced expression, but one that keeps you guessing, which is something we’ve come to expect from the better Japanese whiskies.
– 43% ABV
– about $150
CE Rating: ★★★★