Hibiki 12 – Japanese Blended Whisky | 43% (86 Proof), $69.99/bottle (BevMo)
Color/Appearance: Golden with a nice amount of amber but still well shy of bourbon or rye in appearance. Possibly the most beautiful whisky bottle on the market. Elegant label with handmade paper. This is a blend that contains some grain whisky but to overlook this one because of a closed mind will rob you of an eye opening experience. This blend can hang with most single-malts and is so full of character that you will be left wondering why other blends are so bland in comparison.
Nose: Plums and flowers. Complex and beguiling. This is a composed and elegant nose. As if some genius has made whisky into a perfume, or is it a perfume made into whisky. Engineered perfection. Light and floating effortlessness but also balanced with distinct scents presenting themselves cleanly without interference. Violets, lilac, grape bubble gum, and salt water taffy. A light floral peat with some sea spray. Walking along a dark well-manicured path, the calm ocean nearby with jasmine on the wind. As you round each corner the most perfect gardens are revealed. You become lost most willingly.
Palate: Luscious, juicy, and fresh with some light peat smoke. Crisp delivery with a slight peppery bite but no burn whatsoever. Creamy but lacking a little in heft and oily goodness. Sip after sip is spent exploring the many delicious flavors presented here. A little on the light and sweet side but that is also its charm. The Umeshu plum casks really have a huge influence here, framing the whisky and allowing it to go to a place that no other can follow. Such a unique flavor but not overpowering. Not only does this whisky have the plum liquor casks it also features some Japanese Mizunara oak aging. Notes of honeyed malt, vanilla, marshmallow and coconut.
Finish: An interesting finish, where all of that fruit and floral extravagance moves slowly to a crisp woody dryness that is quiet refreshing. Clean with no off flavors or transitions anywhere. Truly a blending work of art.
Overall: A very memorable, distinct, and delicious whisky that is sure to please. A strong fruity and floral masterpiece. The skill it must take to blend a whisky with this many things in perfect balance is mind boggling. Truly amazing. This whisky brings me to discuss a little of my reviewing philosophy. I review to style. For me that means that I may rate one whisky a 9 and another whisky a similar 9 but enjoy the one in the style I prefer much more. For me this lighter fruiter style is executed so well here, but still leaves me a little wanting. I seem to prefer more contemplative and bold whiskies but this is a nice change of pace. Definitely a delicious whisky that will be enjoyed by a wide range of palates.