Winning time and time again at spirits awards all around the globe, the Japanese distillers continue to outshine their Scotch competitors.
They capture the taste of Japan in every drop and with their range of Hibiki blends, strike a balance between flavour and luxury.
The range consists of five different blends, each with its own unique character but at the same time embodying the art of Japanese distilling.
We begin with Hibiki Japanese Harmony. This is an aptly named Whisky as it highlights the perfection of the blend and the harmonious flavours in the bottle.
The nose is quite floral, with blossom and rose coming through. There is also a slight herbaceous hint that mixes well with the wooded undertones of oak and sandalwood.
The palate adds a distinctive sweetness, with the floral notes become slightly honeyed with a citrus tang.
Clementines and oranges burst over the tongue in contrast to a sweet white chocolate that is also present. Like the name suggests, there is a wonderful harmony between the two that will leave you longing for more.
The finish lasts just long enough with a subtle hint of Japanese oak that rounds the dram off perfectly.
Next in the range is the Hibiki 12 Year old, the brand’s youngest blend.
The flavours of the nose are sweet and fruity and slightly more intense than in Harmony.
The honeyed sweetness of Harmony is there, but with ripe red fruits and summer berries. There is a slight floral quality to these flavours.
The fruitiness continues onto the palate, where it explodes and becomes bananas, apples and pears. The sweetness is joined by a slight peppery spiciness with a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon.
There is also an undertone of oak wood that gives a hint of vanilla sweetness. This ties in well with the spicy pepper and cinnamon.
The finish is again just long enough to be really enjoyed. The fruits are the main flavour in this with the spices taking a backseat.
Next in line is the Hibiki 17 Year Old. With an extra five years of maturation on the 12, this is a richly complex and interesting dram.
This blend takes the honey and floral notes of Harmony and emphasises them against a backdrop of the 12 Year Old’s fruits.
This time the flavours are deeper and joined by some slight hints of smoke and bittersweet chocolate.
These are developed on the palate which is full of floral notes with a black forest gateau of ripe cherries and vanilla cream in the background.
The cherries become a think marzipan that adds smoothness alongside the sweet Japanese oak notes that are also there.
Now we come to the 21 Year Old. This is a very fine dram indeed and has won numerous awards to prove its high quality.
The nose is of caramel apples dipped in hazelnuts and surrounded by ripe berries. The fruits are dark and juicy with a wonderful tang against the sugary sweetness.
The palate intensifies these, with a creamy, caramel undertone and a deep oaky flavour.
The vanilla of the oak the brown sugar in the caramel makes for a sticky sweetness that combines with dark cherries and blackcurrants.
There is a delicate smokiness to the 21 Year Old that gives it a long, refined finish.
This brings us to the big finale of the Hibiki blends; the 30 Year Old. This Whisky is the jewel upon the crown of an already mesmerising collection.
The 30 Year Old is the perfect finish. It is rich and complex with a sophisticated nature.
The nose has a deep nutty leather flavour with an undertone of raisins and dried apricots.
This leads onto a palate that bursts with Christmas cake flavours and marzipan icing. There is a great spicy note of ginger and cinnamon that compliments the dried fruits perfectly.
There is also a slight caramel note that blends well with the spices and fruits.
The finish is exquisite. It is deeply complex and rich, with a dusting of cinnamon and an oaky taste that rounds off to perfection.