Hibiki 17 YO, 43 %

Hibiki 17 YOHibiki is the flagship series of blended whiskies from Suntory, and the series was launched back in 1989. These blends are made up of whisky from all the Japanese Suntory distilleries; Yamazaki (malt), Hakushu (malt) and Chita (grain). A varied mix of casks have been used, including bourbon, sherry, Mizunara and umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur).

You can bu the Hibiki 17 YO in Norway at NOK 1000 (item number 5266701), and in Sweden at SEK 939 (item number 80536).

Nose (23/25): A very rich and complex nose. You can literally get lost here, in a good way – losing all sense of time, as you wander down a myriad paths of aromatic delight. It is quite sweet, but not heavy or overwhelming – it reminds me of honey and beeswax. It has apples, plums, apricots, pineapple, even a hint of strawberries. There’s a whiff of smoke, and some chocolate – or is that cocoa… Tending towards floral, but not perfumy.

Taste (21/25): Super smooth and very soft. Sweet and quite full-bodied for being only 43 % ABV. Vanilla, banana, honey, pepper and something slightly acidic.

Finish (21/25): Long and sweet finish. Honey, cinnamon and ginger. The tickling acidity is always there – and I like it.

Balance (22/25): Very well balanced, and a complex dram, like so many other Japanese whiskies.

Score (87/100)

– Thomas



  1. I agree. I have this and the 21yo. First it is necessary to point out that “blended single malts” all of a certain age can be superb. If you think of a good Bordeaux wine it is several different grape varietals but the complexity comes from synergism. Yes, I love Cab Sauv and Pinot Noir hugely of course but so do I like Shiraz Cab or Shiraz Viognier. If it is blended well with skill and judgement it is a joy to imbibe. So single origin, which in any case typically comes from many different barrels, is not automatically superior.

    Second, I second Thomas’ observation that many Japanese whiskies have great noses – none more so than Yamazaki 18 which for me has the most complex nose I have ever experienced but the taste while good is rarely in the same class. I wonder why?

    • Thanks again for commenting, David. It is great for us to have feedback. I agree that the Yamazki 18 YO is magical. I have reviewd it here on the blog (although in Norwegian) and scored it 92/100. For the Yamazaki 18 YO the taste is certainly on par with the great nose.

      I am not sure if there is a general answer as to why, in many cases, the nose is superior to the taste, but I do find this on many Scotch whiskies as well. Especially for really old whiskies, the nose can be pure bliss, but the taste is not that great at all – usually because of over-aging – too much oak/tannins. The nose is also a more finely tuned ‘instrument’, I think, than the palate (on a bit of thin ice here, I might be completely wrong). So when you find a rich and complex whisky with lots of aromas that your nose finds pleasing, it takes you higher – or paints on a wider canvas, than what a wonderful taste would… Smell does affect taste quite a lot. Hmm…better stop now, I have rambled on enough 🙂


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