Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Hibiki 12-Year-Old Japanese Blended Whisky - Review

Bottled Harmony

Hibiki 12-Year-Old Japanese Blended Whisky tastes delicately sweet, much smoother and more feminine than its Scotch counterpart
Hibiki Japanese Blended Whisky is bamboo charcoal filtered

The Japanese company Suntory, formed in 1899, produces food, alcoholic beverages and even health supplements. Founder Shinjiro Torii, considered the father of Japanese whisky, built Japan's first whisky distillery in 1923. Its corporate philosophy is "In Harmony with People and Nature," so it named its premium blended whisky line Hibiki, which has many positive meanings in Japanese, including "harmony."

Hibiki, which was first released in Japan in 1989, is a blend of more than 30 malt and grain whiskies aged for twelve years or more. After aging in white oak casks, some of the malt whiskies are matured in casks seasoned with Umeshu, Japanese plum liqueur. The blend is topped off with a whisky aged more than 30 years, and then undergoes bamboo charcoal-filtering.

The process results in a whisky with a uniquely Japanese taste; delicately sweet, much smoother and more feminine than its Scotch counterpart. It's fruity on the nose, with a long and pleasant finish. Although one could mix it, it seems a waste to add anything but ice and water.

Suntory, which also makes Hakashu and Yamazaki single malt whiskies, produces Hibiki in 17-, 21- and 30-year-old expressions as well. Hibiki wasn't available in the US until recently, but Americans were introduced to it via the 2003 film "Lost in Translation;" Hibiki is the whisky that Bill Murray's character was touting.

Price: $65 (750 ml)

For more information, visit www.suntory.com/whisky/en/hibiki

More Whiskeys
More Spirits

PBH080511 (Updated: 08/10/11 BH)

Craft breweries are a trend on the rise, with thousands opening worldwide. To help, we've compiled a list of our ten favorite brews you need to try.

Whether straight up or mixed into an Admiral Schley Punch, share a cheers to the American spirit by trying one of our top ten bourbons.