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I have only truly appreciated whisky for a very short time span when writing this review, so read it with a fistful of salt.
"Hibiki" is the noun form of the verb "Hibiku" which means to reverberate/resonate. Usually used in context of sound. I personally find sound and flavour to be almost perfect analogues to each other, and whisky is a form of music but with flavour. The frequency of several various sounds can in the right harmony create beautiful soundscapes, and several differing flavours can combine in harmony and create an experience that is more than the sum of it parts. They resonate with one another, affect and become part of each other, or even become one. They hibiku.
BOTTLE: Well hello Mr. fancy pants!
24 sides to represent the solar segments of the old Japanese lunar calendar (or rather Chinese calendar to be fair). Hand made paper for the label. The cork has a glass knob (unlike the Suntory Royal 12 blended whisky, which has a glass imitating plastic knob). The knob has 12 sides, that I'd say represent the 12-year cycle of said calendar (that is an assumption on my part and I have not confirmed it). i.e. The whiskies in this bottle have completed at least 1 cycle within a cask. On top of the knob the Chinese character for "Hibiki" is etched in. Wonder why they put so much effort into the bottle design on their blends, when their flagship single malt, Yamazaki, gets a very simple bottle with a plastic screw cap? That is not a rhetorical question, there is definitely a reason, and I would like to know why.
Nosing/tasting is done without water, and the dram has been in the glass for over 10 min.
NOSE: Opening a Tupperware full of diced pineapple that's been in the fridge for 2 days. If I isolate it to my narrow nostril, there is a piece of chocolate that I suspect has rum inside it...I don't wanna eat it, but it smells good nevertheless. I find it hard to look past the pineapple, but there is something warm I'm trying to get down to...a pillow of someone I used to like. A nice smell and a fond memory but I don't want this pillow to be in the taste (it wasn't). I don't get much more. Still very pleasing nose, I could smell this for a long time. After I tasted it, I felt a lot more vanilla in the nose.
PALATE: SO smooth, actually too smooth if you ask me. Could keep this in the mouth forever. A gentle and welcomed bitterness hugging the sides of the tongue. Nice oakage going on. There is something about this dram that reminds me of Jack Daniels. I don't mean to say they taste similar, not at all, but there is something. People talk about citrus when they describe this whisky, my guess is that's from the umeshu casks. Even though translated to plum liqueur, the ume in umeshu is not your average plum, but a more sour fruit.
FINISH: There is cream, that beef has been fried in, sliding down my throat. And i hum a cookie up my nose. Enough spice to keep me satisfied. But there is nothing in there that tries to pick a fight with anything else, they all go hand in hand towards the end. I would prefer if there had been a little bit of battling for domination.
SUMMARY: A good whisky. Suntory completes its mission to create a blend of perfect harmony. This is a bottle I will buy again. I have nothing negative to say about it, the only reason I won't give it a higher score is that I simply prefer less harmony. I want something to stick out, something to surprise me, a more dynamic development from sip to finish.