Today, we’re kicking off our dekanta 12 days of Christmas Countdown. Each day in the run up to the arrival of Father Christmas, we’ll be looking at an outstanding Japanese whisky from the year gone by. Each of the expressions we explore deserves honour and praise for its delectable flavour profile and each has made an outstanding contribution to the world of whisky in one way or another throughout 2018. Without further ado, let’s get into this year’s dekanta Christmas Countdown, starting with one of the best – the Hibiki 21 Year Old.
Hibiki in 2018
2018 has been a difficult year for those at Hibiki. As we all know, they’ve had to discontinue yet another one of their much-loved core range and it has been tough to deal with for die-hard fans of both the brand and Japanese whisky.
With the Hibiki 12 already being faded out, the news that the 17 Year Old was to meet the same fate was heartbreaking for many and no number of NAS releases, no matter how delicious and well-crafted, were ever going to make up for it.
Fortunately, the world famous, show-stopping, record-breaking 21 Year Old is still in production and that has given fans of the brand something exceptional to cling to, and rest assured, we’ll hold on to it with everything we’ve got.
Hibiki 21 Year Old
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Hibiki 21 Year Old is one of the finest whisky creations to ever grace the planet earth.
It is one of the most masterful blends to have been created and symbolises ultimate harmony. The idea that a whisky can be utterly perfect is not something that generally sits well with industry experts, but most would find it hard to disagree in this case.
Made up from some of the finest Japanese single malt whiskies, aged in a range of premium quality casks – from Mizunara wood, American Oak and Sherry butts to rare and expensive Japanese Oak, the 21 Year Old delivers a range of elegant, slow-dancing characteristics that swirl around your nose and palate and bring a variety of delicate and eloquent notes for you to explore.
The sheer quality of this whisky is highlighted by the fact it has won “World’s Best Blended Whisky” at the World Whiskies Awards on not one, not two, not even three, but five separate occasions. This is unparalleled success in an industry that is overflowing with exceptional creations and just goes to show how special this whisky really is.
Perhaps the most notable thing about tasting this incredible liquid is just how easily it disappears. The smoothness is unrivaled and this comes down to Suntory Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo, and his understanding of the different aged single malts going into it.
Smells and flavours from each of the whiskies and their respective casks are definitely there, but unlike many other blends where they can be easily identified, Fukuyo has managed to bring them all together in such harmonious fashion that the notes on offer feel like they truly belong together. They work off each other in such incredible fashion that it’s hard to imagine that they were ever apart.
World Whisky Awards Tasting Judges described it as: “Elegant, sweet and complex. This whisky is full of dried fruit, orange peel, strawberry jam and baked apple from start to finish. Smooth, subtle and fairly short.”
As if this whisky wasn’t special enough, Suntory have released a number of limited edition versions of this world-beater that make the collectors among us drool with excitement. They all hold the same incredible liquid inside, but the range of beautiful bottlings available are no more than this whisky, and fans of Hibiki, deserve.
The stunning Mount Fuji and Duty Free releases showcase Japan’s tallest and most iconic mountain in all of its glory and both would stand out among even the most impressive and aesthetically pleasing collections.
These are bottles that really highlight the beauty that is on offer in this whisky. Comparing the Hibiki 21 Year Old to Mount Fuji may be something that seems ridiculous at first, but if you’ve tasted the whisky and seen Fuji up close, you’ll know that it’s a comparison born out of sensory satisfaction.
Then there’s the two ceramic decanter releases, elegant in every way and equally as collectible as the previously mentioned editions, but all together more classic in their appearance. If Japanese history, design, heritage and tradition hold your interest, these two bottles are more than worthy of a place in the centre of your mantle.
Whether you opt for the general release or one of these limited edition beauties, one thing is for sure, should you open your bottle – you will never be disappointed by the liquid inside. It’s the pinnacle of Japanese whisky creation thus far and will, without a shadow of a doubt, take its well-deserved place in the hearts of millions for years to come.
Other Hibiki Expressions
If the 21 Year Old is slightly out of your price range at this time of year, never fear, for Hibiki have a variety of other incredible creations in their arsenal. From the discontinued, but still available in limited quantity, 12 and 17 year olds, to the newer NAS releases such as Hibiki Harmony and Blender’s Choice, there are plenty of options for those wanting to get a taste of the brand’s creations.
Each and every one of these is superb in its own way and they have all had experts’ time put into their blending. Having said that, there is no better Japanese whisky on the market than the 21 Year Old, so if you’re not happy settling for good whisky, go for superb whisky with the Hibiki 21.