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I've tasted a few Japanese drams so far and none were disappointing! This one was the best by far.
I got a taste of the Hibiki 12 Year Old premium blend at the Whisky Festival in Ghent (Belgium) recently and tasted it again tonight from a sample that I got from a friend.
This Hibiki 12 Year Old is a so-called premium blend, because it contains (besides grain whisky as packer) no less than 30 different single malts that are at least 12 years of age, topped off with a 30-year old! The dram has matured on Japanese oak first and finished in so-called Umeshu cask, previously used for the maturing of Japan's famous plum brandy.
The whole went through a process of charcoal filtering - through bamboo wood no less - that gives the whole it's mellow, soft taste.
It was launched in 2009 to celebrate the 20e anniversary of Suntory Hibiki distillery.
The influence of the Umeshu cask is clearly detectable on the nose. Apart from plum, raspberry and pineapple, one also gets hit by very sweet honey and a truckload of vanilla.
On the palate, a duel is going on between the oak and the barley. What a body. Very good indeed.
The finish is nicely spiced and long. The sweek oak prevents the dram from burning down your throat.
The word 'Hibiki' has several meanings in Japanese, one of them being 'harmonious'. That's a good way to describe this premium blend. Available at retailers for around £45.