It’s Day 2 of our 2018 Christmas Countdown and that means Santa will be busy ironing his big red suit, polishing his sleigh bells and counting the bottles of whisky into his sack of gifts, making sure that he hasn’t forgotten about any of us!
Today, we’re taking a look at a whisky that has gained legendary status in the last two decades, being lapped up by fans around the world, before meeting a rather hasty and unfortunate end this year with the announcement that it is to be discontinued. This is of course, the Hibiki 17 Year Old. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
Sat in the middle of the Hibiki range, between the 12 and 21 Year Olds, the Hibiki 17 is a complex and flavour-packed whisky that brings a great deal of elegance to the table through its smooth characteristics backed up by a range of delectable and exciting notes.
This delicious blend, made up of single malt whisky from several Suntory distilleries, aged in a range of premium casks from Sherry to bourbon and even rare Mizunara wood, brings as much as you could hope for from a whisky.
The notes tickle your senses, with sweet, honey-like flavours waltzing on your palate along with fruits, poached pears and gentle spices in the background. As you sip the Hibiki 17, you’ll notice just how easily it goes down and we have the master blender to thank for that.
The smoothness in Hibiki whiskies is not quite like anything else we’ve experienced and, with more and more smells and tastes coming forward as you sniff and sip, you’ll quickly find that you’re at the end of your bottle.
The sheer quality of this fantastic expression has lead to it becoming a firm fan favourite and a staple of the Japanese whisky enthusiast, and the host of awards that it’s picked up serve as a reminder of just how well crafted this dram is.
The 17 Year Old was the winner of “Best Japanese Blended Malt 13 to 20 Years” in 2016 and also won a Gold at the San Francisco International Wine & Spirits Competition in 2013, to name just a couple of the many awards it has under its belt.
It’s a must try for any fan of whisky, whether that be Japanese or any other variant, and so it thoroughly deserves its place in our 2018 Christmas Countdown, particularly given its newly limited nature.
Another Victim of Rising Demand
Sadly, the Hibiki 17 Year Old is one of the latest victims in a string of sought after and adored Japanese whiskies that have been discontinued.
First it was the Hibiki 12 Year Old, replaced by the no-age statement Hibiki Harmony, then came the recent announcement that the Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 would meet the same fate, breaking the hearts of Japanese whisky lovers everywhere.
The boom that the industry has experienced in the last two decades has left supplies of well-aged whisky running dry and, as a result, Suntory has had no other option than to phase out these expressions, replacing them with younger NAS whisky.
Don’t get us wrong, some of these new NAS expressions are fantastic, the Harmony for example is as smooth as butter, sweet and complex, but it doesn’t make it any less painful to lose some world-beating expressions that so many have become accustomed to drinking.
Production of the 17 Year Old stopped in September 2018 and it will slowly be faded out of the Hibiki core range. At some point in the relatively near future, it will be gone for good.
Thankfully we have some good contacts at dekanta and we’re suitably prepared with a decent amount of stock for the time being. One day however, in the not too distant future, we will run out and at that point you can expect to see the value of your Hibiki 12 and 17 reach even greater heights than they’ve already climbed to.
These expressions are sure to achieve collectable status, but for now, let’s just enjoy them in all of their glory.