Booze Review

Whisky Review – Hibiki Japanese Harmony


Hibiki Harmony

We’re no strangers to Suntory’s Hibiki range of blended Japanese whiskies. For several years, their 12 year old expression was the only game in town, but then in mid 2014, they unleashed their 17 and 21 year old expressions on the American market. All three are beautifully made and well respected among the whisky cognoscenti (and we like them too!).

Their latest release is called Hibiki Japanese Harmony, which is also a blended whisky, but this time around, they went the “no age statement” route. Here are a few words about this whisky from Shinji Fukuyo, Suntory’s Chief Blender:

In philosophy and making, Hibiki Japanese Harmony is the new dawn of Hibiki, optimizing the same key malt and grain whiskies from the original Hibiki blend. I envisioned a luminous harmony of flavours and aromas. A pure and simultaneously complex harmony that was at the core of every Hibiki blend.

Before we get to our review, take a look at the following “concept movie” that Suntory produced to celebrate the release of their latest Hibiki blend:

While the video is awfully pretty, I don’t know what any of that has to do with whisky (abstract thought isn’t my specialty), but at least they got the ending right: a crystal glass with a hand carved ice ball covered in whisky. Let’s get on with our review…

  • Appearance: Golden yellow color with a pale orange hue.
  • ABV: 43%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Very sweet and filled with Lifesavers’ Butter Rum and then a little menthol and Vicks VapoRub.
    • G-LO: Very light and fruity with hints of orange blossom, vanilla buttercream, powdered sugar, cinnamon, cigar wrapper, and maybe some eucalyptus too.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: A bit velvety with a little oil and a little heat (more spicy than peppery) and then a nice long hit of buttery sweet syrup. The heat comes back at the end and produces a long warming finish.
    • G-LO: Medium bodied with a touch of oiliness. Starts off slow it’s a bit of orange or lemon followed by a light sugary sweetness. Intensifies in the middle with a nice bit of light cinnamon spice. Gets even hotter at the finish with some herbal and tobacco notes showing up. The finish lasts much longer than I expected with a soothing, lingering spice in the aftertaste.

The Verdict

Limpd: I’m a big fan of Japanese whiskey and was intrigued to try this no age statement blend. I found it to be so well-crafted and flavorful that I bought a bottle for Pappy’s upcoming birthday. He’ll be 82 this month. So, what do you get for someone who really has everything? A really good bottle of whiskey!

G-LO: When I first heard that Suntory would be releasing a “No Age Statement” Hibiki blend, I was a bit concerned. I thought for sure that I wouldn’t like it (we’ll call this Whisky Blogger Hubris), especially when you consider my recent experience with the Hibiki 21 which I found to be way too polite for my taste (it tasted great but lacked the punch that I like in a whisky). I am happy to report that the Hibiki Japanese Harmony was much more fun than I thought it would be! While it’s really smooth and easy drinking overall, there’s a slight bit of roughness that tells you that you’re drinking something potent and delicious. I’m adding this one to my whisky shopping list.

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Many thanks to Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast and Savona Communications for hooking us up with two very generous samples!

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17 replies »

  1. How do you feel about the value-per-dollar on this one? It’s coming to my neck of the woods next year but local liquor prices are higher than average, and this will bear a $100 price tag.

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    • Good question. Japanese whisky prices have been rising rapidly down here, so I always raise the “is it worth it question” whenever it comes time to make a purchase. $100 is kind of steep. I think Limpd paid around $65 for a bottle. That works out to around $85 CDA.

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  2. Thanks for the review, appreciate the perspective. Just picked the Harmony up at the LCBO here in Ontario, and was similarly pleasantly surprised. While different from my Hibik 17yo, I can appreciate the style. Reminds a lot of the higher-quality Canadian blends (i.e., the classic rye “baking spices” of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, combined with the oaked grain whisky sweetness).

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