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Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old

Average score from 19 reviews and 61 ratings 87

Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old

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Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old

I picked this up in a convenience store in Sapporo in a 50ml miniature for under $5! Not your cheap miniature, the bottle is a gorgeous downsized replica of the classic Hibiki decanter glass.

As soon as I pour into the glass, my nose is filled with the beautiful smell. I am hit at arms length away the bouquet of aromas.

Nose: Plums, oranges, vanilla, oak, pineapple, burnt caramel, cinnamon, mustard seed, so very complex

Taste: Oak, pine, vanilla, plums, star anise, orange peel, raspberry jam

Finish: Oak, vanilla, green grapes

This is a light summer drink, so sophisticated and adorable. The use of grain whisky and its blending with the malt is top notch. Of course the core malts are from Yamazaki and Hakushu and grain from Chita distillery. There is apparently whiskies from several other Japanese distilleries, this would be interesting to uncover. My impression is that the Japanese whisky industry is protectionist and seldom trade between each other.

When I acquired this small sample, I had been in Japan for a few weeks. It was my only sighting of the 12. Lucky I have a bottle unopened at home.

This is a superb dram. I sit here gazing at my empty bottle of Hibiki 12 with a lump in my throat. My good memories of the nose and palate are blended with the knowledge that I gave the last dram to a good friend. Hope the Hibiki Harmony is almost as good. If you find a bottle of Hibiki 12 buy it.

Tesco have it at £37 Booths have it stocked year round at £38. There are some good bottles hitting the shelves this year I have seen Glenfiddich, talisker and Lagavulin distillers editions in supermarkets.


To anyone who believes blends are inferior to single malts, this whisky will change your mind! At $65 it far outperforms most every whisky in its price range.

Nose: Extremely complex. It's a rich perfume fragrance with distinct aromas of plum, stewed apple, cream and orange peel.

Taste: Full of cream, banana, a hint of citrus, and a raspberry zest.

Finish: Nice and smooth. Reminiscent of an Irish whiskey. It has a nice subtle oiliness in the mouthfeel


Nose: Delicate, fresh, and alive. Plums, grapes, herbs, grass, pine forest, oak, sandalwood. Inviting, and with very little graininess.

Palate: Oaky and vibrant. Pine, ginger, mustard, cedar, honey. The flavours are fresh and they balance beautifully with the subtle spices.

Finish: Medium in length. Pine, fresh cedar, herbs, honey, mustard seed, grass, ginger, plum, grapes, gooseberries. Balanced and dynamic, I’m really enjoying this.

Well it's time to disregard my initial review on this one. I love it. It's fresh, light, and bright. Aside from the near-perfect balance, there’s a great deal of complexity here. The grape, plum, and fruit flavours integrate perfectly with the wood. The grain is present, but compliments the complex profile. This is much more than just a beautiful bottle, it's one of the finest blends I’ve had.

Really agree with a lot of what you said on this note. Looking forward to trying some other stuff you've reviewed.


Ok so this will be my first public review ever. Until now I mostly just took some notes for myself. So don’t be too critical :) After I already had the “Nikka from the Barrel” which is a wonderful Japanese blend, I decided to explore some more Japanese whisky, starting with the Hibiki 12. It’s also a blend whisky, containing (iirc) mostly Hakushu and Yamazaki Single Malt (among others), blended with various grain whiskys. Nose starts off with a nice fruity and sweet aroma. Ripe fruits like oranges and plums with brown sugar and some light honey notes wrapped in a good amount of oak. Definitely some sherry in here. All nicely embedded into a supersoft grain note First thing on the palate is some oak with nice sweet dark fruits.More and more spices coming through with some orange peel.All fading to a wonderful finish of oak,a little bit of tannins and a spicy-sweet taste that lasts for minutes. The grain in here cant hide, but it doesn’t even need to. The grain contributes a lot to the softness of the Hibiki, without making it “one-dimensional”. All in all it’s a very very good, smooth,nice drinkable yet complex whisky that I can only recommend to try. Thanks for reading

Welcome! A great drop for your first review

Sorry for the wall of text,seems like i cant edit it anymore :(


It is hard to resist this whisky from the get-go simply by the looks of it. The bottle is one of the nicest bottles/decanters out on the market today and it shows in this whisky's popularity. However there's more to this than a classy bottle. Behind it's elegant, colourless shape lies a very interesting spirit indeed.

Nose: Raisins, purple grape and plums. Some slight cacao and ginger come forth with a slight whiff of peat smoke (hmmm). After this smoke veil has gone, some stewed fruits appears with some more plums, and caramel. A good interplay between grain and malt, and slight "Pain-au-chocolat" confectionary smell dimension to this lovely characterful mellow nose.

Palate: Intense but mild/sweet first impression. Big vanilla cream pastries with baked plums/plum jelly and a wide array of sweet baking spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger).

Finish: Not very long (as is often the Achille's heel of japanese whiskies overall) but satisfying finish with Vanilla cream, plums and natural toffee-caramel.

A delightful blend that proves that it's not only just for show, but it's there to make you have a very pleasant moment. It's manufactured (with all the blend-proprieties that apply) but still exempts a quality feel not only a "manufactured" quality feel but a good dose of unbridled flavor as well.


A good friend of mine recently brought me a gift. Half a bottle of whisky that he had recently purchased that he thought that I should try.

You see we're whisky friends. Our friendship started when he came into my shop and purchased whisky and beer from me. Then we started hanging out in a whisky club together. Pretty quickly we were buddies with me advising him at times on what whisky he might want to purchase, whether through me or another shop.

At one point he was telling me about how much he loved this Japanese whisky, a blended whisky, called Hibiki. A blended whisky that combined single malt whiskies from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries and grain whisky from the Chita distillery. The whiskies were aged in American ex bourbon casks, European ex sherry casks and interesting enough American casks that had previously held Japanese plum liqueur.

My friend told me that this was a light whisky that he had immediately fallen in love with and had I tried it?

I honestly couldn't remember if I had, I thought I had, but wasn't 100% sure. So my buddy said that he'd bring a sample by for me to try.

At the end of the week he brought the Hibiki 12 year old sample by for me, a sample that made my mouth drop open in surprise, as it was half the bottle or thereabouts.

This was way more then I was expecting, too much in fact. Not at all my friend assured me, just enjoy it as I have.

That night when I got home my wife and I cracked the bottle open and poured it into our glencairns.

Oh my the nose! The nose is unbelievable and oh so very lovely. Very light, but surprisingly complex. Tropical fruit, pineapples, rockmelon (cantaloupe), lychees, plums, oranges, heaps of vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, caramel.

Beautiful and very light.

The nose has really surprised me and has me very excited about finally taking a sip, to see if the body matches the nose.

Cloves, pepper, lemon peel, plums, again the massive vanilla, oranges, caramel, big oak.

Wow, just wow. Absolutely delicious, and entrancing. This is a whisky that begs me to take another sip, then another drink, then another glass. Very dangerously delicious.

A long nutty, caramel and vanilly finish polishes off this whisky.

This whisky is brilliant and once and for all finishes the debate as to whether a blended whisky can be just as good as a single malt. This little Japanese whisky blows quite a few of the single malts on the market out of the water quite easily.

In fact this whisky might just have become a new staple in my cabinet, especially with the coming summer months ahead. However this whisky isn't the world's cheapest, coming in at around $120 up to $150 AUS and can be quite difficult to find in most bottle shops, however at that $120 AUS mark, it's worth the effort. If you have to pay more then that though, move on, there's better whiskies out there at that price point.

My friend, you know who you are, thank you very much for introducing me to this whisky, now I just have to hunt down the 17, 21 and 30 year old bottles!

I am doing a "once a week, each week" a comparison between this, Nikka from the barrel and the Taketsuru 12. I will do it for the last time tomorrow night, as my buddy is visiting & since he owns the Nikka bottle (from the barrel). Thus far it is very tight, Japanese blends have really "got it", the best blend i ahve ever tasted has been a japanese blend, the Nikka 70th anniversary Master's blend, it is the highest rated of all my whisky reviews on this site come to think of it. I agree that the nose is something to behold, it has a unique "pain-au-chocolat" note, or french pastry.

Man I'm jealous of you guys over there :D So many awesome whiskies which are so much cheaper! Mind you wages and costs of living are quite a bit different so I suppose I shouldn't complain too much, but oh if I could just make Aussie minimum wage and pay American alcohol prices I'd be a happy man :D


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.

Seriously delicious stuff for those of us with a bit of a sweet tooth. I don't pick up those bitter / astringint notes either. Smooth and sweet all the way down. Price point is good too. Wish it was 46%, but why quibble - It's excellent. I was considering importing a bottle of the 17, but I think I will be happy with another bottle of the 12 for now.

I am looking for this bottle for quite a time now. Definitely going to buy it. Hopefully soon. And it is really surprising for me that Werthers Original is so widely distributed. I am reading this quite often in reviews. Thought this is typically German candy.


I haven’t tried much in the way of Japanese whiskies. This will be my first review of one. In keeping with the blend kick I’ve been on lately, I figured I’d start off with the Hibiki 12. Admittedly, the bottle helped a bit. There are a few discussions on connosr about bottle shapes and presentation. Personally, I’d like to think that I’m beyond such trivial matters, and that I can only be swayed by the quality of the contents of the bottle. But that’s simply not true. The gorgeous bottle caught my eye and peaked my interest, so I grabbed it.

Nose: Light and bourbony, with big cereal, heather, and vanilla. Coconut, citrus, pineapple, and banana. A somewhat tropical character in terms of the fruity notes. Ralfy mentioned donuts and French pastries in his review. I get that. Some really nice floral notes here as well. It’s a light nose, but not lacking in complexity. Unlike Scotch blends, the grainy notes don’t seem to weaken this nose. If I didn’t know otherwise, I might assume this is a single malt based on the nose.

Palate: Creamy mouthfeel. A bit of bitter almond. Seriously nutty arrival, actually. Some nice barley, malty notes here. Honey, vanilla, and more roasted nuts.

Finish: Honey, nutmeg, and white pepper. The roasted nuts from the palate remain throughout the medium finish. I’m finally detecting a bit of a grain presence in this blend, but it’s not nearly as prominent as it tends to be in Scotch blends.

Overall, this is a fine whisky. It’s certainly a quality blend that you wouldn’t want to waste in a mixer. Very enjoyable on its own, but be sure to go easy on the water. In fact, I’m enjoying this neat. If I had to make a complaint, I’d say I would have liked a bit more complexity on the palate. Regardless, this is an undeniably wonderful blend.

I’m not too familiar with Japanese blends, but the notes from the grain fillers which often disrupt or harshen Scotch blends seem lighter and more pleasant. They are perceptible in the palate and the finish, but they don’t seem to ‘cheapen’ the drink. It’s just quality stuff. A bit overpriced, but very good. I’m interested in trying out some more Japanese blends now. I’ve heard from a few reviewers mention that Japanese grains are sweeter, less harsh, and integrate better into the character of the whisky. The Hibiki 12 certainly supports those claims. Definitely something I’ll have to investigate further…

Dude! I bought a bottle along with a buddy of mine for a little shindig about three months ago. So, along with other friends, we downed it in one evening. I didn't get to sit down with it on my own and take my time to do a review. But, I had enough to remember the experience of this fine whisky. And I gotta say, as I read your review, it all came back! You hit it right on the nail. That's exactly how I feel about Hibiki 12. The details of the nose, palate, and finish are right on point, or better yet, "in par" with my experience. I agree, with a little water, it kinda drained it. It was too herbal for me. I like it neat. Its weird, cause for a blend, it sort of drinks like a single malt. Everybody was impressed that night, including myself. The only thing I disagree is the rating, If I would've reviewed this I would probably rate this a little higher. Great review as always @Hunggar.

Wasn't aware this one had a grain blend. Well, if so, it's too expensive for that. I find it to be "pretty vacant" in a nice summery way. An attractive drink without too much character, kind of like a runway model with no curves. And yes, my allusion was to the song by Sex Pistols.



Unlike the Hakushu, Suntory Hibiki was not part of the movie Lost In Translation. After I tasted the Hibiki 12 year old, nothing needed to be translated for me anyway. But it has similarities with the movie. It's pretty bottle and packaging combined with the energetic and versatile taste reminds you of the talented and pretty Scarlett Johansson. And once you taste Hibiki 12, you end up yearning for more just like Bill Murray's character did. One of the best fruity whiskies I had ever tasted. Refreshingly versatile whisky indeed. Pure genious...

Now that I'm reminiscing Hibiki 12, I think I might have even given it a too small score. That's the problem with sampling and whisky tastings without owning a whole bottle. You might end up giving your score in a hurry. And you'll surely end up pining for the whiskies that shook you in a good way. You feel just like you did at the end of Lost In Translation.

Nose: Caramel mixed in with flowers and herbs and wood. Lots of tangerines and oranges. Nose is rich and there's probably lots of other aromas as well that my constricted nose couldn't catch.

Taste: Like the nose promises, richness and versatility continues in the mouth. Heavy tangerine effect mixed with some light spices like pepper. Caramels, malt and oak can be tasted as well.

Finish: Caramel slowly evaporates and is replaced by citrus and other fruits. Finish is nice and long and keeps smoothly burning down your throat. Spicy finish with hints of vanilla. slowly deflates and lingers, green peppercorn is the last to leave and turn out the lights. 2.0

Balance: Rich is the correct word, this whisky just keeps getting better at each course of the tasting. I'm sure I should have given it over 90 points but I have to wait till I get my hands on it again. The score will get higher.

This was easy write because of two great subjects. First I actually didn't like Lost In Translation that much but like some whiskies, I started to understand it much better after I watched it couple of times. Hibiki 12 I loved from the very first time

For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

I like your movie references to your reviews. Especially this one of course :)


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.

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 :(

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?


I didnt expect much when I pulled the cork .. but after a moment I realized this wasnt the standard blended whisky. What a lovely soft aroma of craftsmanship and hard work that agreeted me. Everything about this blend is well thought out and has a wonderful spirit around it .. even the bottle and the label is very pleasant. Completely different from all those scottish blends that are lurking in my cabinet.


I have finally got around to reviewing this one. I've had this bottle open for several months and have greatly enjoyed every drop thus far. This is the first Japanese whisky I've purchased and am very impressed with the quality! The other night at dinner I got the chance to try the Suntory Yamazaki 18yo which was a fantastic whisky, so it looks like I will be purchasing more Japanese whisky in the future.


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!


Curiously, I bought and tried the 17yo first and was smitten by it... decided to buy the 12yo, took a few glasses and left it for a month and have now revisited.. Could well be better than the 17yo...

I love this stuff, bursting with fruit, citrus-zest freshness, mint, cloves, apples and jasmine, and that's just the nose. The arrival is a blend of sweet almonds, nutmeg, lime, bitter chocolate and white pepper.

This moves onto a a dry, flinty finish with a tobacco,parchment and cardamon aftertaste... exceptional quality..

The 17yo is exquisite, almost too refined... the 12yo I'm discovering is a complex and robust delight...

Funny but i'm waiting for a sample ordered at MOM and i have the same feeling as you about Hibiki 12 and 17... I know neither of these two expressions and after tasting the 17, i know that i'll buy a flacon (bottle doesn't seems to be the right word here, and that's what i like...) of 12. Influenced by such nice reviews and the amazing umeshu maturation...


After tasting the 17 yo and loving it, I'm now into my bottle of 12 yo... This is a whisky that really opens up and reveals itself with just a drop of water... On the nose the scent is pure bliss, no alcohol just cherries, fresh limes and rich fruit... on the palate I'm tasting plums, tobacco, ginger, cardamon, cloves and rum.

Richer than the 17 yo and smooth but not as delicate.... definitely better with water, very spicy, floral, fresh and fruity. Excellent stuff


I wanted my first review on Connosr to be like talking about an old friend and although i've only be acquainted with Japanese whisky for about a year, I'm never without the Suntory Hibiki 12 yo in my cabinet. In fact i'm on my third bottle, which has nearly gone.

Suntory say that included with the 12 and 30 year old malt in this blend is whisky from casks formerly used in long-term aging of Japanese plum liqueur. It certainly is a smooth and refreshing dram but still full of complexity. I find myself reaching for the bottle far too often! It comes in a great looking decanter which has 24 'facets', which Suntory say represents both the hours in a day and the many seasons according to the lunar calendar. Umm, not sure about the zen in that, but it sure looks nice!

In the glass it's a brilliant amber in color. On the nose its 'summer in a glass', immediately delivering a fruity bouquet, plums, summer flowers and meadows, followed by sweet honey and vanilla. I reminds me of those Japanese paintings of their beautiful ornamental gardens. I spend ages nosing this one, its a delight.

On the palate, it's unbelievably smooth, with honey, vanilla, slight oak, peel and a hint of citrus, not too sweet and with a spicy edge too. The mouthfeel is surprising big with a decently long finish thats not over-drying. After a while you're left with that slightly spicy taste to it also.

I have to say that this is an amazing blend and I can't recommend it highly enough, for under £40 (2010/11) you simply cant go wrong having this spectacular blend with its stylish decanter in your cabinet.

Go get it and find a new friend.

Excellent review, I love this whisky

SOLD! Great review, I clicked on 'add to wishlist' as soon as I'd read it. Cheers.


Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance are graded out of 2.5 each:

Nose: Heavy layers of caramel and rubber, mixed in with fresh herbs, wood-shavings and even peeled onions. A deep plum aroma is not all-together surprising given the Hibiki's part-maturation in plum-liquer casks. Tangerine and celery notes are also apparent in this richly intricate, heavily malted nose. 2.5

Taste: Viscous tangerine extract from the rich malt is blended in seamlessly with the peppery offering from the grain. Juicy caramel and oak give a sense of harmony over the palate, with warm toffee acting to muffle some of the prickly spice. 2.0

Finish: Citrus and pear are the next to emerge from the caramel, which slowly dissipates as the finish continues to grow, leaving behind an oaky residue coated in furry spice and vanilla-soaked radish. As the finish slowly deflates and lingers, green peppercorn is the last to leave and turn out the lights. 2.0

Balance: A very rich whisky comprising of a high volume of single malts, thus giving a luxurious texture to a straight blend of its age. There are plenty of intricate and colourful flavours to discover here in the beautiful land of Hibiki, however it is a land governed by a caramel dictatorship. It isn't necessarily a tyrannical regime, and the charismatic caramel rule does to its credit give an apparent structure and unity between the nose, palate and finish, however I personally would like to see the diverse flavour population beneath the caramel have a bit more of a free say. 2.0


if u r in a romantic mood, look no further to any, this is the best blend u can ever have, fruity and spicy - i could taste the apple and orange with some himalayan spices, forget the most expensive ones, go for it!!!


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.

Not yet, but I plan on trying some more Japanese whiskies in the next few weeks. And in February, the festival is coming to my neck of the woods again. I'll try to get the 17 there. Anyway, the 12 is wonderful in its own rigth.

Mark have you tried the 17yo? I'm thinking of getting the 12 or 17 for the festive season...

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