Another decade jump in age, this time backwards, for my next review; the exquisite 21yo Hibiki from Suntory. The first time I got to taste this was at the World Whisky Awards workshop at the South African Whisky Live (presented by Rob Allanson) in 2013.
Style: Blended Whisky
Age: 21 years
Suntory was started by Torii Shinjiro, who first opened his store Torii Shoten in Osaka on February 1, 1899, to sell imported wines. In 1923, Torii Shinjiro built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery Yamazaki Distillery. Production began in December 1924 and five years later Suntory Whisky Shirofuda (White Label), the first single malt whisky made in Japan, was sold. In January 2014, Suntory announced an agreement to buy the largest U.S. bourbon producer, Beam Inc. This deal would make Suntory the world’s third largest spirits maker.
Hibiki means resonance in Japanese. Hibiki resonates from nature and all the subtleties found from the twenty-four seasons of the old Japanese lunar calendar. The Hibiki 21 year old is a blend of rare and meticulously selected mature grain malts aged over 21 years. The key Yamazaki sherry cask malt is vatted with other carefully chosen mellow unblended grain malts over 21 years old.
Colour: Deep to burnished gold with long, slow and medium legs.
Nose: Sweet with plum, Christmas cake, dried fruit and nuts and some light sweet spicy notes. There is a slight minty character hanging around the edges with some sandalwood and patchouli thrown in as well. Nose is clean and balanced.
Palate: Incredible upfront wood, with a nice mix of sweet and spicy flavours. Nice touch of chocolate on the mid palate and a very subtle nuance of light sweet smoke in the background. A really full and chewy mouthfeel to this one. Palate is stunning. It is in balance, smooth and drying.
Finish: Very long and smooth with sweet spiciness throughout and a nice drying end
Overall: My first whisky from Suntory and Hibiki range and what a fantastic whisky. Loved the full and chewy palate as well as the lovely interplay between the sweet and spicy notes. One other thing I really liked was the bottle, it had a nice heft to it and looks stunning. Can easily see why this won world’s best blended whisky 3 times already at the WWA.
My Score: 87