Even after a decade of whisky blogging, there are still firsts to be had. For example, this is the first-ever time Hibiki features on these pages. A review of the Hibiki Japanese Harmony, to be exact. Because other expressions of this brand are way above my pay grade.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony is made from malt whiskies from Yamazaki, the first malt whisky distillery in Japan, and Hakushu, as well as grain whisky from the Chita distillery. Not coincidentally, all distilleries are owned by Suntory. Last year they celebrated the 100th anniversary of Yamazaki with a limited edition bottle design of the Hibiki Japanese Harmony (amongst others).
Originally launched in 1989, Hibiki is one of the most popular Japanese blended whiskies. And generally held in very high esteem also. The Hibiki Japanese Harmony matured in five different cask types, including American white oak casks, Mizunara casks and Sherry casks.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony (43%, OB, 2023)
Nose: Fresh and inviting with generous citrus fruits, mainly lemon zest and some yuzu, followed by yellow peaches. Sweet yet gentle floral touches, parma violets, a few drops of honey and cedarwood, but also some quince jelly and leafy notes. Very harmonious indeed. Taste: Nice viscosity with a touch of mead, ripe apples and sweet pears, but also a good pinch of white pepper, some crème brûlée and coconut shavings. The oak becomes more noticeable with time. Fewer fruits now, instead more along the lines of custard, burnt caramel and meringues. Finish: Short to medium. Sweet cask influences. The grain whisky elements seem more present.
Skillfully made, this sweet blend should appeal to a broad audience. The Hibiki Japanese Harmony is quality whisky. Stylish. But maybe not with a huge depth of flavour. And, as almost always with Japanese whisky, it doesn't offer much value for money.