Whisky Advocate

Review: Suntory Hibiki 12 yr. old

July 22nd, 2009

I first wrote about this here last week. It won’t be available in the U.S. until October 1st.

 Hibiki, 12 year old, 43%, $55
Well-rounded, solid malt backbone, and very drinkable. These are the characteristics of this impressive blend. Honeysuckle, vanilla-coated malt and fruit (pineapple upside down cake, lemon tart, plum, bramble) are the primary flavors. Ripe barley, marzipan, beeswax, and clove round out the palate. Gentle, soothing finish. Suntory can make a 12 year old blend this good with just two malt distilleries? Scotland, are you taking notice?

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

11 Responses to “Review: Suntory Hibiki 12 yr. old”

  1. Michael Foggarty says:

    I tried this a couple of months back, excellent stuff, what was more bizarre was it was partially age in a Japanese Plum Liqueur cask.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Wisps of mustard and wet dog are hanging around and there’s a finish with a little too much black pepper. Those are some other things I noticed on Hibiki 12. Perhaps the Plum liqueur finishing has its ups and downs?

      Aside from these things, John’s notes give an accurate picture of what is an unusually substantial, and individualistic blend, which is worth the time.

  2. John Hansell says:

    MF, I tasted some whisky samples straight out of Japanese Plum Liqueur cask when I was at Suntory a couple years back. Very interesting stuff, and I think it comes through in this whisky.

  3. Nonjatta says:

    Us poor chaps in Japan have yet to taste this. Oh, the irony!

    Hope you don’t mind that I have put up a link to you review on Nonjatta.

  4. John Hansell says:

    Nonjatta, I would be honored if you put up the link. And if it makes you feel any better, we often are left behind in whisky releases because of our 75ml requirement and our crazy state laws here in the U.S.

  5. […] Not sure if this is bourbon or rye, but notice the “e” in whiskey.  He also reviews an Hibiki 12 now available in the […]

  6. AspiringGent says:

    I wonder if this’ll trickle its way into Canada?

  7. John Hansell says:

    Aspiring Gent: I hope so. A really nice blend and great for everyday drinking.

  8. Brian says:

    When, oh when, will this get released in the US?

    I see no sign of it anywhere. The waiting is difficult. With so very few Japanese whiskies in the American market this will be a welcome addition.

  9. John Hansell says:

    It’s coming Brian. They were pouring it at WhiskyFest San Francisco.

  10. H.Diaz says:

    I broke like a twig and put down my hard earned $60 for this Japanese blend (finally available around these parts). The bottle it self is fantastic. For the first time, instead of recycling it, I just might remove the label and re-use it as a decanter.

    Much like sherry or port enhanced / extra-matured Scotch whiskies, using part-matured plum liqueur barrels is genius. One of the best blends I have ever tasted and well worth the asking price.

    Anxiously awaiting new Japanese whiskies available in the US, like Hakushu.

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