I haven’t done a review in a while, and I try to get one in before Passover each year. Tomorrow I’ll be locking up the cabinet until after the holiday. I’ve done this every year so that someone who keeps Kosher could confidently drink from my cabinet…. 10 years later that has not come up yet. But I press on.
I chose this expression for 2 reasons. First, I have done a pre-Passover review of a Japanese whisky before (Nikka from the barrel). Second, yesterday my wife and I traded in our aging Subarus (which were ready for Palliative care) for new Subarus, and I thought a Japanese whisky would be appropriate to celebrate (but I was too busy trying to figure out all the bells and whistles and forgot to pour something). Cars have changed in 8 years. Then again, so has whisky.
According to the box, Hibiki is “a noble blend of innumerous malt and grain whiskies from… Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries” - essentially a Suntory infinity bottle. I received this as a “Secret Santa” gift in December 2018 from a nephew and his girlfriend (now fiancé), who purchased it at a travel retail store. I have only seen its cousin, without the Master’s Select, in stores in Canada. I opened it February 3, 2019 with my whisky-drinking niece and nephew. It saw quite a bit of use, it seems, as it is just under half full now. But looking back at my records, before today it had not been poured since May 18, 2019. I’ve meant to get to it, and review it, many times, but something has always come up. It has been gassed after each pour.
This expression is reviewed in my usual manner in a standard Glencairn, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
Sweet and fruity, some grainy notes (if smell could have a texture). Something savoury in the background, like a green herb. This is a very clean nose, which punches higher than would be expected at only 43%. No appreciable change with water.
First sip is a little watery and thin on the palate, peppery on the development. In subsequent sips, the fruitiness is there, and again a touch of graininess, not in the mouthfeel but in in the flavour (if taste could have a texture). It lacks a little complexity but it is pleasant enough. It is a bit spirity. Water tones down the pepperiness. It’s still there, in a good way, but the fruits are able to come through more. (22/25)
The finish is slightly peppery and fairly short. Slightly longer-lasting pepper with water.
The nose promises more than the palate delivers, way more.
Score: Neat - 86/100 With Water: 87 /100
This one seems to get better the longer it is in the glass ( about 25-30 minutes now).
I like this whisky. It may be a little underpowered but certainly a pleasant dram that I would not turn down if offered.
What I’ve noticed about many of the Japanese whiskies that I’ve tasted is that the nose is better than the palate. And also, they are very well put together. No flaws. Kind of like a Subaru. Well-engineered, but not the most exciting one on the market.