Hibiki 12 / 17 / 21

Well, it’s that time again… kind of. There’s no “Mega review” at the end of this, however I have to start reviewing more of the multiple reviews and free up some sample bottles, as you can guess based on some posts I’ve put up as of late.

Special thanks to /u/studebaker103[1] for this excellent, interesting swap. Seriously, I’m completely blown away by it, and the chance to try these as a set is a real treat.

But let’s get down to business, shall we? Today we’re doing Hibiki distillery… well, almost all, but seriously, I’m not going to try the 30 year unless I make 17 times the money I make now. Who pays that much for one bottle?

Anyway, back on Track: Hibiki is owned by the paramount of whisky world ownership, Suntory. They make blends. And that scared me a tad, because I’m not always nice to blends. And they are Japanese; based on some of my reviews, you’d think the 1940s state of California treated Japanese people better than I do their whisky.

Never forget.

And.. that’s about all I could find? Well, they brag about using Mizunara, a very rare Japanese oak, in their aging of some of the single malts used to blend. And that’ll be interesting, right?

Not a gimmick, right?


Let’s just get this part out of the way, as it applies to all three bottles:

Price: N/A in the LCBO (at the moment, I think they get the 12 seasonally)

Region: Japan

2 - 0s1m1Az

Hibiki 12 is how we started the weekend. It includes whisky from Yamazaki (yay!) and Hakushu (booo!), as well as grain whisky from Chita (wha?). It is partly matured in plum liqueur barrels.

All that sounds interesting? Well, save that the last time I had plum liqueur I think I threw up. And there’s grain whisky, which is always random. But at least it’s all 12 years or older…. so that’s a plus.


1 - JruDK8R

Abv: 43%

Colour: Straw

Nose: Dark honey, blackberry, cardamon, stewed vegetables, prunes, wheat, orange

What an… interesting nose. At first there’s a nice, subtle spice, and big honey and blackberry flavours.

Don’t worry though, that’s quickly replaced by the rest. Especially the stewed vegetables. Yum (this is sarcasm).

Taste: Licorice, tannins, Sprite, oak, floral

Luckily the nose and taste are miles apart on this one. I actually don’t mind it, save the tannins are a little higher for a proper balance. Bit weak too. Reminds me of JW Black.

Finish: Sour lemon, dry, unripe cantaloupe, birch sap, floral, plum, grainy

Quite the puckering finish on it. Oh, Birch Sap tastes like weak maple syrup with a dry, dry, dry component to it. Very dry.

And yeah, you can taste the plum and the grain elements. They somewhat stick out.

Conclusion: It’s different. The taste is inoffensive, if a little too tannic. The nose is a sham. The finish really dry. All in all, tasty, not horrible, though I probably wouldn’t order it if there were better options.


1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #137

101 Whiskies to try before you die review #39

4 - PAJcNmB

Now for the second child, the slightly older, we can let him out with the car… well, now we can’t, cause he blows a 43%, but still, she’s more responsible…Hibiki 17.

Why am I rambling? Well, it’s hard as fuck to find out what goes into these. It one “Editor’s Choice” from Whisky Magazine, however after reading one of them lately, I feel like it may as well say “Dart’s target at a wall of names choice” based on the reviews they give. Let’s see if I can find some more on it.

Just wait right there…

Okay, it is made with aged malt and grain whiskies from Suntory’s three distilleries (so similar to the above). Also it wone the 2012 Best Japanese Blend 13 to 20 years in 2012… which seems like it was made for this whisky (that is a complimock).

And… that’s it.

Well, that makes me feel… okay…. right…


3 - tiDDOei

Abv: 43%

Colour: Wildflower honey

Nose: Lots of perfume, plums, roasted nuts, apple

Tons of perfume. Like a cask strength Lowland, or walking through the Bay, or walking behind a group of 14 year old girls at the mall.

Granted there’s also roasted nuts.

Wait, that sounds creepy to follow those two up.

Very floral, is what I’m saying. Hard to find anything else except for perfume.

Taste: Gummy worms, lime, parsnip, strawberry jelly (not homemade), cinnamon, basil

That’s really tasty! Tons of rich, sweet, deep sweetness, tempered by a little spice and a little earth. Really tasty. Not at all like the comments above about the nose.

Don’t arrest me.

Finish: Butter, oak, pepper, bread, mint, rosemary, banana

Again, a huge surprise as it morphs into a dry, buttery, herbal, oak and still has a little fruit flavour as time goes on.

Conclusion: I know this costs twice as much as the 12, however… seriously, just buy this instead of the 12. This is a really good blend. Probably one of the better blends I’ve ever had. Get past the nose and you are in for a treat.


1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #138

6 - KkxpQe9

Hibiki 21 is the big guns. This bugger won the World’s Best Blend in 2014 at the World Whiskies Awards. Jim Murray will personally blow you for an ounce.

And… that’s all I can find out about it. Holy Fuck they don’t give much away over at Suntory.

Alright, well, with the plethora of awards, this has to be good, right.


5 - 4phUxHV

Abv: 43%

Colour: Brown-gold

Nose: Violets, plum, chocolate, caramel, leather, taro, ginger

Nice nose. The floral notes from the previous two are now more refined and discernible. There’s still the plum, yet it gives way to an older smoke and some sweets.

Very nice.

Taste: Lemon, nutmeg, brown sugar, rosemary, hot, butterscotch, tobacco

I… well… I mean, it’s smooth, and has some baking notes in it. Kinda hot, so I’ve given it some time to breathe some more.

Now it has a tobacco taste to it… which I’m not the biggest fan of.

Dammit, I’m not enjoying this.

Finish: Lemon, melon, brine, turnip, butter, chili pepper, basil, oak, lavender honey

Medium length, and has some interesting notes. However… well…. it’s over oaked. I just keep losing taste in the oak as I let it sit longer. Eventually a lavender honey flavour comes out. But… well… just like some periods after prom, it’s late.

Conclusion: This is note a bad whisky, it’s just not an exciting one, to me. The taste was a little mental, the finish was over oaked, and the nose was amazing. I will re-review this just in case I ever get a chance again, however… I can’t recommend buying a bottle. Just not that interesting, at the end of the day.

I’d buy the 17 over the 21. If I ever try the 30, I don’t really know what to expect.


World Whisky reviews #49-51, Japanese reviews #7-9, Whisky Network review #248-250

One thought on “Hibiki 12 / 17 / 21

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