Archive for the ‘Blended Japanese Whisky’ Category

Nikka From the Barrel 51.4%

Tasted: Sept 2008

This must be the bargain of the century! This is a truly awesome nose. Very woody and so heavily spiced it’s untrue. The aromas are so dark and treacly with lashing of mature honey and liquorice. Being a vatting I would guess that there is a large dollop of mature spirits on display here, but the late vanilla oak keeps it all in check and balances it rather nicely. The palate opens up quiet softly, almost deceptively so and then whoosh – Wood tannins, orange, dark fruit, liquorice and exotic spices arrive like a bullet train hitting the tongue. Amazing balance and hugely spicy. Although it’s at cask strength the alcohol is definitely not intrusive.

A drop of water definitely tames the beast pushing the spicy wood notes to the background and allowing the most gloriously, luscious orange fruit to shine. If you are at all unsure as to the quality of Japanese malt whisky, then buy this! You will not regret it!

Nikka From The Barrel 51.4%

Re-Tasted: May 2015

The nose is quite heavy on the sweet grain with hints of spicy sherry, burnt coffee, raisin, treacle and hints of herbs. Lovely depth with a late buttery and toasty vanilla note.

The palate opens with burnt raisins and sherry wood followed by sweet grain and excitable spices. Hints of treacle, dried sultana, prune and coconut appear on the middle. Very long and very spicy with lingering treacle and sweet gain notes.


Suntory Hibiki Harmony 43%

Yamazaki & Hakushu malt plus Chita grain, aged in Mizunara, American oak and Sherry

Tasted: Aug 2015

Quite oily aromas with some noticeable creamy American oak followed by a touch of resin and some dusty oak. The sherry cask adds prune, raisin, pepper, clove oil and cinnamon. Very full with a good ‘maltiness’. Later a touch of sweet grain appears. Lovely balance.

The palate feels younger and toastier with the more noticeable sherry input – orange flecked raisinated fruitcake and hints of peppery spice. The grain is also a little more dominant and shows a sharper, nippier character. Long and still quite oily with some drying charred and resiny wood tannins appearing along with a touch of dark chocolate. Still wonderfully elegant with a lovely lingering spiciness.

Suntory Hibiki 12 year old 43%

Tasted: Aug 2011

The Hibiki is a blend comprising of malts from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries along with a variety of grain whiskies. It was aged in what I would imagine was new American white oak casks (given the large amount of oak character, and finished in casks that once held plum liqueur.. Finally it is filtered through bamboo charcoal.

A soft and pungently aromatic nose with plenty of fresh oak, giving it quite a Bourbon-esque character. The gentle grain component sit just below the surface. With time some oily spices and a definitely plumminess appear. This is a beautifully crafted nose.

The palate is super smooth, given the filtration. Opening with the juicy barley, vanilla oak and plum notes. There is a lovely grainy/ spicy bite on the middle. The oak flavour drop off quite quickly, leaving the oily grain on its own, but it’s still wonderfully long. The exuberant spices return on the finish along with a gentle perfumed note.

Suntory Hibiki 12 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Mar 2014

A lovely rich and malty nose. Beautifully balanced with deep honey, crisp, sweet, herbal honey and light syrup coated, perfumed plumy/ winey notes. With time the mature, dusty American oak really emerges along with hints of minerals and flowers.

The palate opens with sweet but dusty barley and sweet plum notes. Generously malty with sweet-ish American oak, roasted coffee and a cognac-esque dried fruit note. The mineraly grain spirit comes through to balance the sweet, plumy fruit and it finishes with a peppery flourish. Definitely one of my favourite Japanese whiskies.

Suntory Hibiki 17 Years Old 43%

Tasted: Mar 2012

An edgy and mature nose, with plenty of dried fruit. Quite venerable with the cinnamon sprinkled fruit (plum, apple, raisin) taking on a stewed demeanour. Stunningly deep with hints of old sherry and grain but balanced by some oily malt.

Soft and gentle on the palate, opening with the mature grains, which build beautifully. The oak sort of feels like it’s holding the enthusiasm in check. Very oily with the gentle stewed dried fruit and spice coming through. Good length with a pleasant grainy bite and a woody finish.

Suntory Hibiki 21 year old 43%

Tasted: Feb 2013

Nose: A big, bold and beautiful nose of oily Guyana rum-like notes. Lightly raisinated fruit and spice drift above some lusciously creamy oak. Lovely maturity to the aromas, and very much like an old grain whisky. Superb depth with a refreshing citrus twist.

Palate: The palate is quite tannic to begin with as the oak really grips. However there is a depth of lightly oiled dried fruit with hints of spice, liquorice and light treacle, but there’s no escaping the oaks grip.

Finish: Very long and gently grainy.

Conclusion: A stunning nose. Very old grain like, which I love. The oak overly grips the palate, but it has a lovely finish.

Suntory Hibki 21 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Jan 2014

Nose: Stunningly deep and unctuous – There’s some serious age here. Beautifully honeyed and buscuity with dusty oak, malt, citrus and syrup. Did I mention the honey? Yum! Late violety notes appear.

Palate: Gentle and mature. Lovely sawduty oak mingles with the citrus infused honey and becomes lightly creamy with time. An array of lightly oiled, mature, dried fruit and grain appears on the middle along with some gentle spices.

Finish: Very long with a light smokiness and the spices running riot now!

Conclusion: Stunning stuff!

Suntory Hibiki 21 year old 43%

WWA 2016 – World’s Best Blended Whisky

Re-Tasted: Feb 2016

Nose: Gorgeous, dusty, mature grain to kick off with, followed by honey and beautiful tropical melon and apricot. Stunning depth with a hint of dried fruit and a balancing malty sweetness.

Palate: Soft and supple with an abundance of juicy, dried fruit, honey and gentle tropical notes. This displays some beautifully effortless age and depth. Absolutely divine.

Finish: Long and delightfully spicy with a mouth-watering juiciness and hints of wood notes.

Conclusion: This has got to be number one!