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Hibiki 17 yo (2017, OB, 43%)

Hibiki is one of the most iconic brands among Japanese whiskies. This is certainly due to a rather recognisable bottle, as it has no fewer than 24 facets – like the 24 hours of the day, the 24 traditional Japanese seasons and Igor Protti’s 24 goals in the 1995/1996 Serie A season (it is said, among other things, that Hibiki, in certain regions of Japan, means “Forza Bari!”). Blended from malt and wheat produced by the Suntory Distillery, all age-graded editions are currently collectors’ items. However, we spare no expense in satisfying our beloved readers, so here we are sacrificing a bottle of 17-year-old Hibiki, just for you.

N: very sweet, with ripe pineapple and mellow fruit salad (peaches with wine); in the background a broad side of aromatic wood and dark, almost dry flowers (pout pourri). Chocolate cake filled with raspberry and strawberry cream. The age can be felt, and there is a surprisingly ripe scent, a la Cognac XO, with juicy Mirabelle and orange, which probably demonstrates the blended soul of the product.

P: a slightly aggressive attack, but immediately much sweetness compensates for the initial slap. It is a warm palate, with a succession of oriental (and western) spices: pepper, cumin, ginger, nutmeg. The honey binds the perceptions together, and leads us to a revelation in a jar: yellow plum compote, quince and more cooked peaches. It improves a lot on the finish: for 43% and being a blended it has extraordinary intensity.

F: On the finish, the malt distillate dominates: medium-long, elegant, dry, with a bouquet of dried and ripe fruit, including almonds, mango and peaches.

Interesting, outside the scotch schemes we are used to. A great exuberance of fruit on the nose, a not very convincing attack on the palate is redeemed almost immediately by showing a more austere and ‘clean’ soul that we like so much. 87/100.

Recommended soundtrack: Guano Apes – Big in Japan.

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