Hibiki 12 years Review

Hibiki 12 Review

Hibiki 12 is a blended whisky from the Japanese company Suntory and is a blend of Suntory’s Yamazaki and Hakushu single malts. Being a blend it also contains a grain whisky from their Chita distillery. The whiskies start aging in ex-bourbon barrels, but at some point the liquid spends time maturing in plum liqueur barrels. I can’t say I get any plummy notes from it, but I will say it has a unique character and that could definitely be playing a part in that.

Now for the sad part… Hibiki 12 is no longer being made and has been replaced with a NAS version called Harmony (which I’ll be reviewing soon), but it can still be found fairly easily. I picked this one up at a smaller liquor store here in Los Angeles recently and I also know that an LA Costco got in a huge shipment of them a month or two back and put them out at a reduced price to close it out. Right now is an interesting time for Hibiki 12, some stores (usually chains) are closing the bottles out and reducing the price while other stores (usually specialty shops) are jacking up the price. Regardless if you want to try it now is the time because it won’t be too much longer before it’s all gone and the only price in town is the secondary market price, and that’s never pleasant.

Hibiki 12 years Info

Region: Japan

Distiller: Suntory
Age: 12 years
ABV: 43%

Price: $75 (price increasing quickly though)

Hibiki 12 years Review

Dirty honey

Spice, candied citrus, caramel and butterscotch lift out of the glencairn first followed by notes of vanilla, toasted grains, butterscotch and a bit of smoky char. There is a hint of astringency and alcohol, but they’re light enough to not be major distractions.

Caramel, malt, dark fruit, almonds, bananas, smoke and wood all fight for dominance with light bits of dark fruit, spice, toasted grains and alcohol watching from the cheap seats.

Med-long fade of spice, wood, smoky char, malt, graham and fruit.

Nicely balanced with medium body and a warm silky feel.

I really enjoy the Hibiki 12 and it’s sad that Suntory seems to be cutting it from their lineup. It was a fantastic example of a blend done right and even though it was a bit overpriced it fell in line with the pricy nature of all Japanese whiskies here in the USA. It has a nice aroma, pleasing palate and a complimentary finish that tied the whole whisky together in a nice neat package. Really not a bad little dram.

SCORE: 87/100

Hibiki 12 years Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 88
  • Palate - 86
  • Finish - 87
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 88

Hibiki 12 years

Japanese whisky was never cheap and Hibiki 12 is getting tough to find these days which means when you do the price isn’t what you’d call a bargain.

Hibiki 12 Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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15 Responses to Hibiki 12 years Review

  1. AFAIK, Hibiki, Hakushu, and Yamazaki are from Suntory, not Nikka. The replacement for Hibiki 12 is Hibiki Harmony (a NAS version)

  2. Hey Josh,

    Nice review! I love this one, and wish it wasn’t getting so pricey.

    Quick correction, though: Hibiki is produced by Suntory, who owns both the Yamazaki (with a ‘z’) and Hakushu distilleries. Curious to know what you think about those single malts as well!

    • Hey Dan,

      Thanks, I noticed that pretty quickly after posting. For some reason I got Nikka stuck in my head (despite having a bottle reading Suntory right in front of me).

      I had the yamazaki 12 and it was rather flat to me, but the Hakashu on the other hand I liked better and the Hakashu peated I like quite a bit.

  3. I had a bottle a year or two ago and, while pleasant, I didn’t feel it was worth the price, especially compared to anything from Compass Box, JW Swing, or James Buchanan 18SR. I did get the plum taste, but very slightly. My opinion may be biased by my general ambivalence toward all Japanese whiskies I’ve tried.

    • The price of the Japanese whiskies have been my biggest complaint about them over the years. I really like the Hakashu peated, but most of the others have been ok. Not amazing, just ok.

  4. Thank you for the review. A few corrections. The distiller is Suntory, not Nikka (another great Japanese whisky distillery). The Hibiki 12 year is definitely being made and is not being discontinued. The demand for it is out pacing the supply, which is contributing to it’s availability. We are producing as much as possible without compromising the craft. We hope you enjoy the new release, Harmony.

    • I noticed the error fairly soon after publishing. For some reason I got Nikka stuck in my head. Thanks for the info, you might want to be sure people know this isn’t going away because local stores here in LA are pricing it like it’s disappearing and I’ve read on multiple sites that this is being discontinued and that’s why the NAS Harmony is showing up.

  5. Had this only an hour at a speakeasy type bar in Liverpool. The nose was great till I put a couple of cubes of ice in. I would say the score you given was relatable. I’d really give the nose somewhere in the 90s.

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