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This 21st Century offering from Suntory will not disappoint. It is no Islay, since it has little to no smoke at all, but it is rather a nice warm weather scotch that goes well with ice, although I prefer mine neat. As for adding water, I would not do that.
Likewise, I would advise using a large single ice cube if possible to avoid watering down a lovely and sensitive scotch blend with water. As usual, rinse off your ice cubes under a filtered water tap to remove the smell of your freezer from them if you decide to chill your Hibiki. You wouldn't want to detect a faint eau de toilette of frozen peas, now would you?
The wood character of Hibiki is different from most scotches. It reminds me of the smell of a lighter wood than oak, even though it is probably some exotic form of oak (to me here in North America). The nose is delightful, with hints of caramel, nougat, marshmellow, graham crackers, and green tea.
A nice light mouthfeel that is not astringent, as some reviewers indicate. Lightly creamy mouthfeel but not fully creamy. On the tongue, I taste notes of vanilla, plum, bamboo?, hardwood of some sort, starfruit, cactus syrup, puffed rice cereal, orange blossom, and Werthers Original candy.
The finish is longer than one might expect for a blend. It lingers on nicely with carmel, vanilla bean, and a woody flavor that I can't quite identify, although it is pleasant. The wood influence is a little more in the Hibiki than with some other Suntory whiskies.
Pricing I paid $65 for this bottle in the State of Oregon, USA. K&L in California lists it for the same price, but K&L then tacks on tax on top of that if I'm not mistaken. My recommendation is to go up around $70 or so, but not much higher. HIbiki is worth between 55-$70 but not much more. If you can buy this whisky for under $55 it is a must buy for sure, and should be in any serious whisky connosr's cabinet or safe for that price point.
Yes it has some grain in it, but the grain is very unobtrusive and compliments the whisky nicely. I have heard that there is a little 30 year single malt in here, in addition to the 12 year. I would not be surprised if that statement proved to be correct. As usual, some Japanese craftsman know how to work with what they have. Suntory has it going on with this one! They have taken a Scottish tradition and put their own unique twists on it. The end result is nothing less than charming: blended scotch with an Asian voice that sings on the tongue for a long time in the finish--or dare I say writes Kanji on the tastebuds ; )
Quite a nice whisky for summer time. Thumbs up! My rating is a blend mark, not a single malt mark.