The honorable G-LO-san and I recently experienced the serenity and harmony that is a well known Japanese whisky. Once the musing started, we found ourselves immersed in tranquility as we became one with nature and its beauty in a glass of the “water of life”. Then the kids started running around the house trying to get in on the action, and all hell broke loose, making my brain turn to thoughts of Agony of Ninja Slayer. Luckily, we both had whisky before The War of Vengeance started and the darkest shadows cast down over the innocent people in the City.
WHOA!! That was weird! Somwhow we drifted off into a battle of good versus evil when all we really wanted to do was drink a little whisky! These late-night, cross-country tastings are playing with what little sanity I have left. Must. Find. The. Slayer…
AK: Ever been to Japan?
G-LO: Never. It’s on my top 5 destinations list.
AK: The bucket list, eh?
G-LO: I dislike that phrase.
AK: Me too. I prefer whisky list.
G-LO: Whisky list is much better! Cause that’s how I choose vacation destinations. Food and drink. What else is there?
AK: Right! Much more fun than choosing by amusement park and hotel. Let’s knock off a line or two from a couple of your lists tonight: Japan and a Japanese whisky, G-LO-san. We’re going to the Land of the Rising Sun and elegant whisky.
G-LO: And The Yakuza…
AK: And The Yakuza. This will be fun since I’m too cheap to actually take you to Japan. My first car was a Toyota Celica, which when translated into Japanese, means Toyota Celica.
G-LO: What’s the translation for Honda Accord? That was my first car. You never forget your first. She was a beauty.
AK: Uh, it’s Honda Accord. Japanese is an easy language.
G-LO: Impressive. So, what’s on the menu, Aaron-san?
AK: Well, I think we have something a bit nicer than your Accord tonight. And better gas mileage to boot. Hibiki 21. From your friends at Suntory.
G-LO: They were my friends.
G-LO: Were. No Hibiki Harmony invite. This makes me sad.
AK: Why I oughta…!! It’s that Beams thing I bet!
G-LO: Maybe my email address got lost during the acquisition.
AK: Quick story. Yeah, I know…not possible.
G-LO: I love stories! I’m a captive audience. Literally. Let’s hear it!
AK: My friend, Jay, who lives nearby and, wouldn’t you know it, is Japanese. He travels to Japan frequently and knows I have a sweet tooth for whisky. Last time over, he brings me back this baby!
G-LO: You got nice friends! I don’t get it!
AK: Me neither. But we’re lucky boys tonight because of Jay.
G-LO: God bless Jay! And god bless the Land of the Rising Sun!
AK: You said it, EmperorG-LOhito! I love the bottle design.
G-LO: Sexy sexy! You need to make a desk lamp out of it. They have kits, ya know! So so pretty!
AK: I know. ‘Tis a nice one. The back label is all in Japanese. I think the English translation is “No animals were harmed in the making of this whisky, except for Hello Kitty“.
G-LO: Poor Kitty. Guess we should call her Goodbye Kitty from now on. Good thing I’m not a crazy cat lover or I’d surely be upset by this revelation.
AK: You all poured since I know you’re not purred?
G-LO: I am. Poured. Not purred.
AK: It looks so rich in the glass. Can a whisky look full bodied?
G-LO: It sure can! How do you say Amber in Japanese?
AK: Good question. Google Translate! Per the box, Hibiki means Harmony, I dated her in high school. Melody wouldn’t speak to me.
G-LO: Hmmm. I only dated Cacophony and Dissonance. That explains a lot.
AK: If I can’t spell their name, I ain’t dating them.
G-LO: I come from a long line of difficult to spell names. And difficult to pronounce. You date who you are right?
AK: So, very Italiano. BREAKING NEWS! The 24 faces on the bottle symbolize the ancient tradition of Sekki, the age-old Japanese calendar, and represents 24 seasons. 24 seasons?!?
G-LO: Bunch of one uppers those Japanese.
AK: In SoCal, we have heat, drought, fire and earthquake. 20 more seasons and we’re sucked into Hell for sure, or the 909 area code.
G-LO: Hell is hot. Or so THEY say. I’ll let you know when I get there. Save you a seat?
AK: Can we bring this stuff? Think we might need it and might be pretty good.
G-LO: I’m sure we can smuggle in a bottle or two.
AK: If this is any indication, the youngest offspring of mine, who took Japanese for two years, says it smells good. Then again, her idea of a gourmet Japanese meal is steamed rice.
G-LO: Think of the money she’s saving you. The color is beguiling.
AK: Definitely beguiling.
G-LO: Amber, but with a golden orange hue. Like the sun is rising out of the glass.
AK: 21 years will get you lots of color from the wood. Add your own jokes here; I got kids milling about. Do they add coloring to this juice?
G-LO: Doubtful. That wouldn’t be very kosher. They were pouring this stuff like water last May when I went to the Hibiki event in New York City.
AK: New info: It smells “Japanese-y” per the youngest.
G-LO: That’s all she’s got? Like the interior of a brand spanking new Toyota Avalon?
AK: Yep. That’s all she’s got so far.
G-LO: Have you nosed yet? Should I go in?
AK: Nosing. Smells rich and hot. Only 43% though cinnamon-y. Sorry for the technical jargon.
G-LO: Only 43%??? As Limpd would say, “We have problems.”
AK: You said it, not me.
G-LO: I have a group to resolve these problems. Got some orange oil here.
AK: I’m in if the group consists of heavy pourers. Very light on the nose. I was thinking furniture polish. Pledge? The polish not an actual pledge. The rag of Pledge after it’s cleaned the credenza. Sorry, I drifted off into 1969, with my mom cleaning the living room, telling me to get my shoes off the coffee table.
G-LO: Ahhhh 1969. The summer of love. And hate. Orange Pledge perhaps? Got some Ginger too. Not Mary Ann.
AK: Who picks Maryann except liars?
G-LO: I concur. Ever have VAT 69? Not to be confused with Funk #49. One’s a blended Scotch whisky, the other’s a song by The James Gang.
G-LO: I think there’s a VAT 69 / Band of Brothers connection. There’s some Herbal Essences in there.
AK: Like you use Herbal Essences, Baldy! I’m going in, Mr. Roboto.
G-LO: Actually, I use Suave Rosemary Mint.
AK: You do have a nice smelling pate.
G-LO: Thanks! I try not to offend. Still nosing. Cinnamon for sure. Orange oil. Ginger. A hint of licorice or incense. I know! Candied ginger!
AK: Middle kid says orange too.
G-LO: She going all paparazzi for us? She does good work!
AK: Youngest kid says vanilla.
G-LO: Probably. Almonds too!
AK: Wife says grainy.
G-LO: Speaking of grain. The grain whisky they put in this stuff is insanely good! Chita Single Grain. It’s delicious. Our buddy Coop reviewed it. I believe Chita is pronounced Cheetah. Gets you snockered fast, I bet!
AK: 40 mph fast!
G-LO: Oh hell, yes!
AK: Taste time, G-LO?
G-LO: How do you say “yes” in Japanese?
G-LO: Hai, Aaron-san!
AK: Which also is a way of agreeing. Like “Yes, you are correct.”
G-LO: Arigato! I’m going in!
AK: Oily and rich like the track in Episode 5, Season 1 of Speed Racer. More cinnamon too.
G-LO: Interesting. Used to love that show. I’m very much like Chim Chim.
AK: You’re taller. Slightly.
G-LO: Not very oily to me.
AK: Burnt sugar, not Burt Sugar.
G-LO: Episode 7 when they cut Speed’s brake lines.
AK: “They” suck! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Hold on, Chim Chim!!!!
G-LO: Remember Trixie? I wonder if she turned any actual tricks.
AK: Slow down there, Spritel! Trixie was a good kid.
G-LO: No. Not Sprite. Different tasting. This is Hibiki. 21. I remember 21. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Definitely a bit of heat on this one, but not immediate.
AK: Sneaky heat.
G-LO: It builds, but not in a blow out your palate kind of way.
AK: On the back end, there’s a bit of bite. Yep. Racer X would approve.
G-LO: This stuff is compelling. It’s a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pour in a row kind of whisky. Session whisky.
AK: Definitely. Could easily put away a few drams of this.
G-LO: It’s light at first compared to what we usually drink.
AK: Orange really comes out in more tastes.
G-LO: There’s a nuttiness there too. Watch yourself!
AK: And a zaniness.
G-LO: Zesty and zany! Vanilla. Butter almond. Cinnamon.
AK: The orange thing is weird. Keeps coming on strong for me. Mmmm. Orange chicken.
G-LO: A bit of light brown sugar. Sauteed in a pan with unsalted butter until it’s not quite caramel or toffee.
AK: Now you’re just making me hungry.
G-LO: Booze does that. Always crave snacks when I drink.
AK: I have a fantasy that people in Japan drink this stuff for lunch with sushi.
G-LO: Don’t be surprised if they do. I had sushi and Hakushu 12 once. Delicious!
AK: Can definitely imagine that.
G-LO: I’m almost outta whisky!
G-LO: The finish on this is fantastic! Though the fact that I’m finished with my glass is not fantastic.
AK: It is but that orange thing is omnipresent.
G-LO: Orange oil or juice? Guessing oil.
AK: It’s like zesting an orange and the smell wafts around endlessly.
G-LO: I love that smell. And the image of zesting an orange with those drops of oil erupting off the skin. It’s flammable, ya know. Had a cocktail once where they were sparking the oil as they squeezed it over the glass.
AK: Wait. Orange zest is flammable?! My glass is empty too. Boo!!
G-LO: Apparently it is. Not super volatile, but it’ll flame up a bit.
AK: I did not know that, Ed.
G-LO: Check it, Yo!
G-LO: Shall we smell the empty glass?
AK: Wow! That video’s amazing!!
G-LO: G-LO no tell tall tales! Mostly cause I’m short.
AK: Ha! Glass is not real pungent or maybe I licked all the remains! Kind of surprised.
G-LO: Agreed. Subtle glass. Why do I always think chocolate?
AK: You like chocolate. I always think money.
G-LO: Ever have one of those chocolate oranges? The ones that you whack on the counter so that it breaks into segments.
AK: Yep. Grandma sends them.
G-LO: Smells kinda like that.
AK: Haven’t had one in years. I like the violent candy image though. Orange and chocolate never was a big appeal to me. Now peanut butter and chocolate….
AK: The chocolate and whisky pairing is fascinating though.
G-LO: I love the combo.
AK: Even something as simple as Hershey Kisses goes well with whiskey.
G-LO: I agree.
AK: I’m breaking out the Rolo’s!
G-LO: I’ll tell you what works. Hibiki 12 and a cheese called Primadonna which is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano. Had that one New Year’s Eve at Limpd’s. Final thoughts on the Hibiki 21?
AK: How can you not like it though as usual it’s out of my peated comfort zone? I’ll probably hit the garage and pull out something “less subtle” before bed.
G-LO: It’s a beauty for sure, though I’m not as blown away by it as others have been. I think it’s the octane. Needs to be higher.
AK: Agreed. $250 or whatever it is seems way excessive. Always agree with that idea. More Punch for me, less Judy. Here’s a good example where the Age Statement means little to me. And the world is all about age statements which sucks since I’m trying to forget mine. I want to be NAS.
G-LO: Yep. I would never add water to this. I didn’t really appreciate the flavors until the third sip. Think I’ve desensitized my taste buds with all this high test whisky. Final thoughts?
AK: Total agreement. Lovely whisky with over-powering orange notes. But could use more punch for my taste. Wonderful nose. Like Charlize Theron. Is that off the topic?
G-LO: Who cares?! I concur. 46% is the bare minimum in my book these days. I need more intensity!
AK: Think the flavors need to be over the top for me when it’s a lower ABV.
G-LO: Tasty stuff for sure. Could drink this all night. But I wouldn’t pay $250 for it. $150 to $175 is more apropos.
AK: I’d say it’s very drinkable and complex but not something I’d buy.
G-LO: Hell of a gift though! Lucky fella! Arigato for the sample, Aaron-san!
AK: A good one to take to share.
G-LO: Goodnight, Dick.
AK: Hey!! Oh, Goodnight, Dan.
G-LO: Annnnnnnnd…… Scene! It’s a wrap.
AK: Where’s Craft Services! I need donuts!
Categories: Booze Review, Hibiki
Good gravy! I had no idea that all hell literally broke loose on the Left Coast during our tasting. Good job keeping your cool during all that. Most impressive!
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A pity we did not actuallymet last year May in NYC at the Hibiki Experience, G-LO. It was great fun and great stuff!!
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It’s toe-may-toe, tah-mah-tah. I’m pretty sure there is only one way to say Hibiki. On behalf of the Japanese people, Hello Kitty and Sherwood Schwartz, I am offended. And, the correct answer is Mrs. Eunice “Lovey” Wentworth Howell. She has all the money!
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