Suntory

Review: Hibiki Harmony Blended Japanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
Finished in Plum Wine Casks
Recipe
Malt and Grain Whiskies
Distiller Yamazaki, Hakushu & Chita (Japan)

One effect of all the Japanese whisky craze has been an increasing influx of no-age-statement whisky, as this Hibiki whisky has been introduced without one. I find, below, that it isn't inferior to the 12 Year Old.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

On the nose, anise seed, with a general dry spicy feel and some pear. It takes some time to open up with some malt and vanilla coming through. The palate has creamy, buttery barley, with a light smoky end. There is also some rich barley, pear, and some very light earthy notes in the background and a reasonable amount of tannin as well. It’s sweet, with vanilla and a light edge of smoke on the finish. Rich barley is still in the mix, with a tinge of spice. Decent body, with a bit of a peaty vegetal character to it as well. A nice strength to this – the creaminess is nicely buffeted by the 48.2% bottling strength which brings in a strong bit of ancillary flavour.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Really not a bad buy for $100, especially for Japanese whisky.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: LZ8DSU

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Toasted coconut, oak, plum, cherry – this is a very nicely balanced and interesting nose, which is lightly floral too with terrific wood notes. Loads of dried fruit, too. Terrific stuff! The palate is clean, loaded with rich wood notes and orchard fruit, finishing with more orchard fruit, oak, and vanilla with a gaining tannic influence which
eventually breaks to reveal even more fruit. Just wonderful whisky! Slightly better than the last one I reviewed.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. But, if you are in North America and want to explore Japanese whisky, this is one of the better (and relatively available) Japanese whiskies, given that there isn’t usually a large selection.


Review: Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Suntory Toki 1.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Hakushu, Yamazaki, and Chita (Japan)

This whisky has been designed exclusively for the North American Market, and comes at an entry level price. It really is entry level, but that is all it is trying to be. It is designed for versatility, based upon the various ways that whisky is consumed - neat, on the rocks, or in a highball.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Light fruit – pear, peaches, apples, light lemon and grapefruit, and a slightly spicy backdrop with some toffee, brown sugar, and light incense. The palate has a great feel, with some brilliant oak and grain whisky playing around in the background alongside some toffee, and light peach. It’s very easy, light, and relatively simple - i.e. not that interesting – but serves terrifically as a casual sipper and there aren’t any negative elements at all. I’m sure this is what they had in mind when they moved decided to produce this – and they have it accomplished!

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $60. But in terms of Japanese whisky, I think they did a pretty good job! I enjoy the stuff. You can do better in Japanese whisky, but it comes at a price…


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: LZ8DSU

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is fruity, full of apples, plums, mulling spices, and slightly astringent oak. There is a very nice sweet grain character coming through – it isn’t negative. Fairly simple, but I have no complaints about this whisky! The palate is light, with fruit on top, oak in the middle, and spice underneath. The finish is oaky and slightly malty, with a tingling tannic sensation. The sweetness is just about perfect here.

Not a bad sipper, all things told. It’s a bit better in a highball, but this is still better for
the price than most other Japanese whiskies (and many which cost more).

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. This, however, is on the high end in
terms of Japanese whisky which is generally quite expensive for what you get compared
to other types of whisky.


Review: Yamazaki 12 Year Old Japanese Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
12 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Yamazaki (Osaka, Japan)

Yamazaki is between Osaka and Kyoto, Japan’s first whisky distillery built by Shinjiro Torii. It has 6 different stills all of different shapes and sizes. There are different estimates around how many different styles of malts produced here puts them around 120 –  but no one knows for certain. The distillery is owned by Suntory – one of the world whisky giants.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

The nose is bready, with some very clear barley notes, papaya, marmelade, and tomato chutney. Also in the mix we have some light floral notes like jasmine, peach, apple, and cinnamon. The palata is quite full, with a focus on buttery barley which is quite magnificent in my opinion. There’s also oak and some fruit in the background, nicely placed around the barley. Very light tannin in the mix as well. The mouthfeel is smooth, though not too thick.  Cinnamon, barley, pear, with a slow light cleansing character on the finish. The flavour has a decent size to it, with bitterness that fades away leaving more of a creamy, slightly sweet, barley character.

I’ve never tasted a whisky which so clearly shows barley in a manner as close to the plain cooked grain as this one. Buttery barley, balanced by pear, vanilla, oak, and light tannin to give an edge. Nicely done.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Very nice. At the top of this category.

Value: Low. In many places, this isn’t cheap (~$200 CAD).