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Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old

Smooth operator in expensive kimono

0 980

@NilsGReview by @NilsG

23rd Oct 2012

0

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    80

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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.

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9 comments

@Wills
Wills commented

Hey @NilsG thx for the first Japanese review! :) You being the insider I liked those informations about the name Hibiki and the bottle design!

Btw you mentioned the Yamazaki and this plastic screw cap. We normally know cheap whisky with those plastic caps and there it is a sign of lower quality. I heard for some Japanese whisky like Yamazaki this isn't the fact, because they use high quality caps. They are robust and seal very good. Indeed the Japanese seem to prefer them over corks, because there is the risk of the whisky to be influenced by a bad cork. Japanese are a very tidy/accurate/exact and want to guarantee the best possible quality. At least I heard this story ;)

Like your review a lot and I am looking forward to buy a bottle. Unfortunately it is a little expensive over here :(

6 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

Thanks @Wills ! Yes from what I see a good screw cap is actually better for the whisky than a cork. A cork is not completely inert and will eventually deteriorate. Plastic caps will stay intact virtually forever. Having said that, I prefer a real cork. I like the feel, look, smell and especially the sound of the cork. And I have NO intention to keep any bottle of whisky forever.

Do you know if there are any whisky bottles with plastic cork, like those you often see on wine bottles?

6 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

I didn't see plastic corks yet. And yes, I prefer a real cork too and I guess this historic authenticity is the reason most bottlers are using them. But the Japanese seem to have another approach.

I am going to read more reviews on this soon, would love to get my hands on a bottle.

6 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

herro, nilsy-poo and wills! you studs of connosr :D in terms of that fancy lid for hibiki, the intention of that design was to look like a perfume bottle so it could attract female consumers. i guess they also assumed that chicks like blends over pure malts? what the fack?? anyway, hibiki apparently is topped off into a johnnie walker blend, in case you were curious about that kind of information.

6 years ago 0

@Onibubba
Onibubba commented

Beautiful review. I want. Tomorrow's goal will be tracking down this whisky.

6 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

Hey Bliss nice to read from you :) And I guess I am a female consumer then, because this bottle IS sexy!

6 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

Wills, you're more like a ladies' man!

6 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@Onibubba Thanks a lot! If you get around to it one day, it would be interesting to read your review on it.

6 years ago 0

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