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It pays to make the effort to keep up a good friendship with your lawyer ex-wife who enjoys shopping trips to NYC. She happily acted as my whisky mule, bringing back this bottle, which is unavailable in Ontario's LCBO stores. I could barely wait until she got back - which is not something I usually feel about her, I can tell you!
Hibiki is the blended whisky range of Suntory, and my understanding is it is more popular than their single malt ranges (which is the case with most blends). The malts comes from two Suntory distilleries, Hakushu and Yamazaki.
The colour is deep honey; the nose has a pronounced grain element, with light toffee and the faintest touch of citrus. There is also some chocolate and mint - like an Aero mint bar! It is fresh and clean with a slightly oaky approach. Water brings forward a sweet grain, not unlike bourbon.
It is sweeter on the palate than on the nose, but not by much. Light brown sugar, raisin, mouthcoated by thin butterscotch and vanilla. As with the nose, water brings out the bourbony notes by highlighting the sweet and the oak beautifully.
Long, sweet and very smooth finish. Remarkably smooth and drinkable, as a good blend should be, yet also complex. The sweetness takes a slightly more prominent role than the grain in the balance, which I think is as it should be with this lovely whisky. Hibiki is also available in 17, 21 and 30 years (the 21 was crowned World's Best Blend in last year's World Whisky Awards), as well as a non-aged expression. I long to try them all!