Whisky Review: Hibiki 響 17 Years Old

Style: Smooth, Caramel fruits and Grains

Nose:

Caramelized pears dressed around delicious ripe banana puree. Subtle barley husk scattered on top, grain signatures craftily wrapped up to give a beautiful touch. Orchard fruits surfing on the second caramel wave, perfect heat, vanilla with garden herbs, especially basil, singing softly at the edges. Perfect sweet/dry balance. Elegant aroma.

Palate:

Vanilla cloud clustered together and raining down white chocolate-coated crystallized pineapples and other tropical fruits. Side brushes of honeydew and cranberries – a strong fruit-vanilla front is formed. Malt and grain gradually becoming louder in shattered form as the sweetness is starting to wane from mid-palate. The dryness sinks lower as white pepper and oak join in to form base notes, while the surface is thinly laminated with a layer of vanilla milk.

Finish:

Agar agar drifting on top while oak-infused mocha rooted at the bottom. Coconut notes becoming more prominent towards the end.

Thoughts:

It has been a while since I revisited Hibiki 17 and I am surprised how grain-driven this whisky is. Maybe it is just me, or the recent batches are like this… Anyway, it feels this Hibiki plays on the synergy of fruit and grain components to highlight a good sweet/dry balance – a simple, but elegant solution. While the aroma is near-impeccable, but the partition of the sweetness and dryness is more evident on the palate which loses part of that synergy. That said, it is still a lovely, smooth blend which, unfortunately, costs stupid money these days.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

[43%・Blended Japanese Whisky・General Release・Discontinued・Circa 2016 Bottled・t]

-Esmond