Suntory Hibiki contains bourbon-aged malt from Hakushu, sherry casks from Yamazaki and grain whisky from the company’s Chita distillery. Intriguingly, a portion of the whiskies used have been aged in casks that used to hold Japanese plum liqueur.
Colour: Aurulent (Gold-Coloured) or Melichrous (Honey-like). Maybe Luteous (Golden-yellow).
Nose: Very fruity, with ripe oranges, apple pie, marmalade and plums (would I have still got those plums if I didn’t know about the plum liqueur maturation? I’d like to hope so). Fresh honeysuckle and nougat aromas, sugared almonds, sponge cake, icing sugar. Expressive and exciting.
Palate: Smooth as a snooker ball, with delicious fresh grain, oak tannins and delicately sherried malt. Some clove, pepper and mixed peel as the sherry comes forward. The citrus is here as well, if slightly more tart like lemon or grapefruit.
Finish: Spices, apple peel and the last remnants of the finely-tuned grain. Nothing dominates, everything in place – the integration and balance are quite remarkable. The spices seem to build in intensity at the finale.
Comments: Slips down easier than a greased eel in an oilslick. This is tremendous. A hugely impressive feat of blending that proves, if there were any remaining doubt, that Japanese whisky can equal or beat anything produced in Scotland at this moment in time. Bravo.