Seemingly half our conversations these days with our malt friends revolve around how whiskies are just getting so expensive these days and so this is something we are giving a trial here (Cheers to Hodinkee for the inspiration); giving our picks of what we think are “bargains”, if there is one such things these days…
Once again, the Hibiki 12 and 17 flew off the shelves in Sydney shops like a locust infestation. A couple of the more opportunistic stores are pricing the 12 at $140 and the 17 at as high as $299 and still managed to push them with ease.
There’s no doubt the Hibiki, as a blended whisky, has long been highly regarded by some whisky lovers and the more occasional drinkers alike. However, the current pricing in Australia is making some previous supporters think twice, or even skip it completely.
All is not lost though, Suntory has followed up on the launch of Japanese Harmony last year by somewhat quietly making the Japanese Harmony Master’s Select available at Sydney Duty Free.
Sweet European oak showing a surprising presence on the nose, there is a cola note that fizzles out intermixed with mandarin marmalade. The grain spices have been kept at a moderation. Powdery delivery of muscovado sugar and a candied ginger note with hint of delicate smoke.
The grain element is more evident upon the first sip but the indulgently sweet prune sauce note note unlike the sherry cask sets in shortly after. A hint of cola gummy bear with a vague touch of dark chocolate truffle. Leather and tobacco in small quantities to of with the modest spices.
A tender finishing of poached dark fruits, with just a hint of oak tannins sipping out to go with the fragrant notes from the malt and grain, and to add a tad of complexity to go the otherwise comforting and non-challenging dramming experience.
This is a well made, finely curated blend that embodies the craft of the blenders along with the philosophy of Japanese whiskies. It’s sweet and delicate and in my opinion just what you want from a Hibiki, a vast improvement on the Japanese Harmony with that addition of sherry influence acting as a agent to release more of that signature fruitiness. If you are a Hibiki fan, you will appreciate this; and if you are not, you won’t be offended by it.
The display photo shows the “limited edition” that’s priced rather dearly but the standard version which contains the same juice has a much more palatable price tag at $115. It is not so much a value proposition but a reasonably priced whisky in my opinion especially when you factor in the fact that
everything is more costly these days as compared to a couple of years ago this is a sherry cask driven creation, which probably makes it a bang for the buck when you consider how much the Yamazaki sherry is going for at auctions… but this is an entirely different subject.
Disclaimer: With a value pick, it’s all relative, some purists would dismiss a NAS whisky completely and/or look down upon whiskies from certain distilleries. At WhiskNick, we simply don’t really care as long as we enjoy the dram. 🙂