Hibiki 12 – Distiller: Suntory. Age: 12 years. ABV: 43%. Price: $60 (where available).
Hibiki Harmony – Distiller: Suntory. No age statement. ABV: 43%. Price: $60.
Hibiki Smackdown! The increasingly scarce 12-year-old vs. the new NAS Harmony. Been wanting to try these together, both from pure curiosity and because the Harmony is the apparent replacement for the 12-year-old, which is being discontinued–like too many other fine aged whiskies–to keep up with demand.
Both are blends of malt whiskies and grain whisky from multiple Suntory distilleries, aged in various casks, including, interestingly, ex-plum liqueur casks.
Both are light, golden, honeyed, and beautifully balanced. The word “hibiki” means “harmony” in English, appropriately enough. Both have lovely subtle noses, great delicacy, a kiss of sherry, floral elements, and too short a finish.
What about the differences? It’s very much like comparing Nikka’s Taketsuru 12 and the new Taketsuru NAS side-by-side. In both cases, the 12 is a touch darker, rounder, smokier, and more composed. The NASes are a little brighter and wilder, and in the case of the Hibiki Harmony, there’s an extra candied citrus note and a bit more spice.
Both Hibikis are delicious–for lovers of whiskies lighter side, or as first drams. Don’t try these after you’ve had a Stagg Jr. But do try them. There’s plenty to like in both. Kanpai! – BO