Recently we wrote about our ultimate Christmas Single Malt gift in: All I Want For Christmas - Part 1 The Single Malt. The Balvenie 21 Years Old Port Wood is one hell of a dram but let us not forget a blended whisky can be just as magical.
Part 2 The Blend
So if you were to ask me “What is your ultimate Blended Whisky for Christmas?” I would have to answer with the Suntory Hibiki 17 Years Old. I was introduced to the Hibiki 17 Years Old in the early 2000’s when I started frequenting Japan more and more. It leaves a magical note in my memory of discovery and interest. Nostalgia aside this now famous dram, though getting hard to come by, is one of those whiskies that show blending can be everything as good as a Single Malt.
Suntory is the perfectionist in harmonising their whiskies for an ultimate drinking experience. Created for the Japanese market first, this whisky is not about isolating particular flavours, rather it is about "embodying delicate sensitivity”. The flavours are rounded, rich, light and saturating all at the one time. We have spoken with Suntory Global Brand Ambassador, Mike Miyamoto (and for a while master blender at Suntory) several times in the past and he has comment that the aged Hibiki range has 32+ whiskies going to the blend. These include single malts, single grains, gain blends, malt blends as well as cask variations all from Suntory's distilleries.
This expression, like all of the Hibiki family, is packaged in the signature 24-facet bottle. The multi-faceted bottle has been designed to symbolise the unique 24 seasons in the Japanese lunar calendar. Again a symbol of harmonic unity. If there is one bottle to be buying for a gift that will look amazing on the shelf then this is certainly it.
Suntory Hibiki 17 Years Old
Distiller: Suntory Whisky
A warm sunset
Floral musk sticks, oak, gentle caramel, vanilla beans, fruity plums and nectarines
Complete roundness across the palate with elements of sweet dark cherries, vanilla, woody oak, and toffee apple
Super gently that develops real floral sweetness and a grainy spice tickle and a woody texture
This is a certain introduction into what makes Japanese whiskies great and makes for excellent food pairing to almost any Japanese meal. If you are buying this for yourself for Christmas then make sure it is the first dram on Christmas day. Any lucky receiver of this gift will not be disappointed but you may reconsider just keeping it for yourself at the last minute.
Suntory have started to replace the Hibiki 17 Years Old with the Hibiki Harmony in the Australian market. Though the Hibiki Harmony is a great whisky it should not be mistaken for a younger version of the age statement Hibiki's as these are specifically different flavour profiles designed differently from the ground up. In Australia the Hibiki 17 Years Old is still attainable at $179 but it is becoming a rarer and rarer item. We must assume by this time next year stocks will be gone from our shores for a long time.
We will be capping off our All I want For Christmas Articles with the ideal whisky glass in Part 3.