$$$$ — 43% ABV — 17 Years
Due to that four-letter-word "blend," most whisky snobs will walk into the Hibiki line ready to dislike it. But the truth has left in its wake a trail of these snobs sitting in isolated and thoughtful confusion: Hibiki is devastatingly good.
It's all vanilla and flowers on the nose, giving way to coconut and custard and honey on the palate. Finally it finishes fruity, sherry-like and a little dry, as if to egg you on for another sip. It's a dram as multifaceted as the bottle it comes in.
So what's in it? Certainly Suntory's iconic Yamazaki has a presence. Several Hakushu expressions are also no doubt involved. More non-Suntory whiskies are likely also added, but their Chita grain whisky, it's said, makes up the majority. Rare to find even in Japan, Chita is a charming, light, and fruity whisky that does not conform to the boring blending stock found in Scotland.
Beyond Chita, two secret weapons are at play: the first is mizunara oak, not too uncommon among Japanese whiskies as it is their native oak. The second is barrels previously used for umeshu (plum wine) which is tart, fruity and highly aromatic. Without doubt, Hibiki is a 'finished' whisky — in every sense of the word.