Update: Winner of the best blended whisky in the world award at the World Whisky Awards 2008. This, of course, puts my scepticism below in some sort of perspective. Perhaps it is worth all that money after all!
I liked the Hibiki 17 but will have to save quite a few more pennies to afford this most prestigious of Japanese blends. At 100,000 yen (ie £400/$800), I could buy a computer for the same price as one bottle!
I am not sure about prices when they get to this sort of altitude. Sure, if the whisky has some kind of real rarity but this is really part of Suntory's standard range. You get the feeling someone is sitting with a supply and demand chart and figuring that some people will just buy things because they are expensive. It seems to be aimed at the market for leaving presents for top executives or for toasts for sealing big business deals, rather than at individuals who like good whisky.
Most of the people who get to drink this are probably either non-whisky drinkers who have to say thank you politely or red faced suits, smashed after multiple rounds of celebratory sake. This is a pity because, as Serge tells us, it is a stonking blend.Review by Nonjatta contributor - Serge Valentin
Visit Serge`s website, the definitive Whiskyfun.com.
"Hibiki 30yo (43%, OB, Suntory, Blend, circa 2000)
This one has already been coined ‘the best blend in the world’ by some Maniacs so we’re very curious now.
Colour: Dark gold.
Nose: Absolutely stunning. Very complex right at first nosing, starting on a very wide array of various aromas such as marzipan, orange marmalade, nutmeg (a lot, really), apricot jam, quinces (lots), chamomile and many others... The oakiness is just perfect. Then gets quite spicy, with still a lot of nutmeg but also ginger, juniper berries, saffron... Also old Sauterne of the highest grade, vanilla crème, bergamot... Exceptional, certainly the most beautiful blend I have ever nosed, although I must confess I haven’t tried many.
Mouth: A little less classic and surprisingly sweetish for a short while (marshmallows and bubblegum) but it’s soon to get back on track, with an excellent oak up front and a spicy cortege progressively joining in (some nutmeg albeit less than on the nose... white pepper, very sweet curry, something like satay...) Also, some spearmint. Gets maybe just a tad drying at the ‘end of the middle’.
Finish: Long, certainly oaky but nicely so, still spicy, even a little mustardy (wasabi, of course). Anyway, certainly a blend that will keep most single malts at bay, Scotch included. 91 points (and thanks, Ho-cheng)."
43 per cent (abv)
Price700 ml - c. 100,000 yen