Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hibiki Suntory Whisky

In the older days, many people do not take Japanese whisky seriously. We have all heard of Japanese sake and after all they do make the best sake right? But who would have thought that Japanese whisky would also be a big hit today? Many years ago, Japanese whisky would have been considered as a joke to many scotch whisky drinkers just like any other Japanese products to the Europeans. Look today, and you see them driving a Japanese car, having lunch at a Japanese restaurant and perhaps having a kitchen hood from Japan too!

So, after decades of concentrating on blends, the Jap started marketing single malts. In 2001 the quality of the malts was highly regarded when a Yoichi whisky from Nikka distillers was voted 'Best of the Best' by Whisky Magazine. Now it was official, not only could the Japanese make good whisky, but they could make whisky that a distinguished international panel of tasters considered the best in the world.

Japanese distillers have traditionally taken Scotch as their model, and today, the UK whisky drinker can purchase around a dozen Japanese malt whiskies from specialist retailers, with ranges available from both Nikka and Suntory. But sadly, in Malaysia, we do not have such a privilege. However, they are some Japanese restaurants or bars that do serve Japanese whisky.

I, personally, do not have a wide understanding of Japanese whisky. Just give me a whisky and I'll drink it. After only which if I found that I like that particular taste, only would I go on to conduct a brief research on my newfound favourite! Yesterday, we were so delighted to be able to taste a bottle of 17-year-old Suntory Whisky Hibiki.

Firstly, I was already attracted to the bottle itself. It's a very cute stout clear glass bottle with 24 faces which symbolises the ancient tradition of "sekki" (the age-old Japanese calendar and followed for centuries representing the 24 seasons). Don't ask me what it means. Read here. And the label is made from hand crafted paper called washi.

Hibiki is the flagship blend of Suntory, one of Japan's biggest drinks companies.
On the history of Suntory, you can read it from this website.

This is a multi-award blended whisky with 43 % ABV. On the nose, it has a fragrant and floral note, with some hints of citrus and spices. Full bodied and creamy on the palate, with a touch of fruits and spices. Long, fruity and spicy all interwined, with pleasing oak notes and a good finish. Overall, it's a rich, full-bodied blend, full of class and elegance. Smooth, mellow and velvety. I like it and I must say that I'm pretty impressed with the Japanese whisky makers!

I'm going to keep this empty bottle now and put some hand folded stars in them! Cheers!


FooDcrazEE said...

my goodness . .love the way u describe the palate and bouquet. One will think u r drinking wine

Sean said...

yeah, nice description. i doubt i'd be able to appreciate it though. i can barely recognize regular whisky :D

Huai Bin said...

Hmm...I've never had JAPANESE whiskey before. Interesting.

They even have single malt!

taufulou said...

the bottle sure looks nice and never know that jap have wiskey until you blog about it...

17 years old..sure it taste good`

zewt said...

Honestly, I have never heard of Jap Whiskey, what more when you said it's single malt.

Too bad though, with my kidneys, need to refrain from alcohol...

eiling lim said...

Foodcrazee: Thanks. I describe whisky the same way like wine.

Sean: Well, with practice you can!

Huai Bin: Are you sure you never did? I thought you're the alco expert! Yes they have single malts too! cool eh..

Taufulou: It's good! If you have a chance, try it. I'm sure you'll be impressed too.

Zewt: You can refrain but you can at least try a sip right?

ahhup said...

Japanese do produce high quality whisky, be it single malt or blended, I tried Nikka's Hokkaido pure malt and Yamazaki 18 YO, very impressive and suitable for the oriental tastebuds, by the way, they in limited quantity, grab it when you came across any that you like

eiling lim said...

Ahhup: Hey thanks. I'll keep an eye on the label you mentioned.

cab said...

where in KL do you get your japanese whisky from? i wonder if the hibiki 12 y.o. is available in malaysia esp in langkawi or labuan.

eiling lim said...

Cab: I had friends in the industry and you can check out Asia Euro they brought them in. In Langkawi they do sell the Hibiki 17 and not 12 though.

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