I have become quite a fan of Japanese whisky (especially those of Nikka) and was looking forward to tasting this offering from Suntory. I'm still a fan of Japanese whisky but less a fan of Hibiki.
Nose: Quite fruity: plums (think of exceptionally dry Gekkeikan plum wine) and a bit of cherry juice. Assertive oak; estery; grains are a bit lost among all the fruit and oak. Some shy sherry notes in the background.
Palate: Very light and mostly dry. The wood influence appears quickly and takes over producing a bitterness that lingers and finally closes things out.
Finish: Drying with the oak tannins holding court.
This is an unbalanced blend as the wood overwhelms the light character of the spirit. Seventeen years seems a bit too long for this dram and I would like to try one of the younger Hibikis (the 12 yo or their new NAS expression).
Victor, it's always good to hear from you. It looks like the 17 yo just might become quite the rare beast. I was curious as to the current price of the 17 yo (my bottle was a gift from my son's mother in law!!) and looked on some of my favorite on-line sources (Whisky Exchange and Royal Mile) to see what I could find. What I found mostly was "out of stock" and "unavailable". I don't think I could have bought a bottle if I had come up with the suggested price of $130. Given the diminishing stock of old Japanese whisky it is no surprise that Suntory might have to cut this from their range in favor of younger offerings and NAS blends such as their "Harmony" blend.
@jerryclyde, thanks for your excellent review.
As for Hibiki 17 yo, I haven't yet had the opportunity to taste it. I like fruity and dry, but bitter oak will ruin any whisky.
I'll bet you'll like the pleasant and light Hibiki 12 yo better. No wood issue that I've seen.