Hibiki 17

Suntory: Hibiki 17 Year (Japanese Blended Whisky: 17 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: Clear darkened gold.

Viscosity: Slow thin streaks.

Nose: Stewed apricots and dates. Marzipan and plums. Crumble topping. Rich. Water brings out oak.

Body: Smooth. Apricots. Golden syrup. Light oak and bamboo. Milk chocolate behind. Dry underneath. Water makes more fuller bodied but also much more noticeable alcohol.

Finish: Milk chocolate. Orange liquore. Raisins. Light oak. More oaken with water and potatoes comes out. Bean sprouts.

Conclusion: Most water goes better with a drop of water, this goes doubly true for blended whisky. It tends to help the whisky open up and takes off the alcohol burn. That said, don’t add water to this whisky. Not one drop. Seriously.

Neat it is as smooth as you could ever need, and with all the lovely elements fully on view. The aroma can be detected across the table, and yet is not overly punchy up close. There is a rich and dessert like smell, full of stewed fruit and sweetness. This lovely sugary sweet delicacy of an aroma is just murdered by water. Don’t do it.

The body is a lighter feel than any single malt you care to mention, not my preferred texture style, but I will concede on the technical scale it is well done. The flavour on the other hand needs no such reservation, it is lovely smooth fruit and sweetness that has a light touch and yet full character.  Again, worse with water, the alcohol becomes more burning and hides the flavours behind it.

The finish finds you with around off of smooth chocolate and liquore than all vanishes with water, replaced with a vegetable and oak remain.

So, if I haven’t got my point across yet, without water this is great. Dessert like and slips down remarkably easy. The over smoothness of this kind of blended whisky works against it for me, but I am aware that for many it is a benefit. This is an easy going and yet flavoursome whisky and very impressive.

Just don’t abuse it with water. Please.

Background: I didn’t get the chance to try too much whisky in Japan. Mainly because the price was higher than the UK in most places, and the range about the same. So, when I got home I decided to go for a bit of the hibiki. Drunk at the Tasting Rooms. While I can be wary of blended whisky the Japanese really seem to have the nack for it.