Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master’s Select Review And Tasting Notes
The Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master’s Select Whisky is the spirit that comes closest to the concept of alcoholic harmony. It was born and studied down to the smallest details to be delicate, fragrant, elegant, and balanced.
By mixing single malt and grain from the three great distilleries it owns, Suntory has made a whisky that everyone around the world likes. This whiskey is the epitome of balance, and it is very Japanese.
The blend that makes up Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master’s Select is narcissistic and sophisticated, but the final product is bland. It is not bad. Indeed, it is good, but if you consider that it costs at least 130–140 euros, the discussion becomes thorny, and “good” is not enough for that price.
And after the first moment of elation, when you enjoy all the little details, like the way the different woods used for aging play with shadows and lights or the amazing variety of the bouquet (where ethereal, creamy, spicy, and other baked fruit tones alternate with grace), you’ll get bored.
It lacks profundity. It does not entangle you for the simple reason that it is too quiet. It lacks a bit of edginess and personality.
Many spirits, like rye whiskey, are vertical, but they exalt you. Others, like Bourbon, are sly and chubby; Highlands single malt gives you cheeky looks and goes its way;Islay peat punches you in the face, but this Hibiki Japanese Harmony master’s selection smiles and tickles you, but you have no idea how to get it.
We are looking at the facts: the product itself is valid, but given the price, it is necessary to analyze the pros and cons calmly.
How is it made?
It is born from a blend of three whiskeys from the three distilleries owned by Suntory. The single-malt Hakushu is light, cold, and floral, like a Speyside. The grain whiskey Chita adds savory notes and softness, making the Yamazaki whiskey round and mature.
All this goodness is blended with another Yamazaki whiskey aged in sherry casks.
The name “master’s select” comes from the fact that Shingo Torii, Suntory’s master distiller, chose the five types of casks that went into making this blend.
In addition to the American oak used for bourbon and sherry barrels, the legendary Japanese Mizunara oak barrels were also used, usually only for the finest whiskeys.
There is also a “non-master’s select” version, without the addition of whiskey aged in sherry, which costs 30 to 40 euros less.
A great nose for cleanliness and balance between wood, pepper, caramelized orange peel, coffee, ripe fruit cooked in the oven, and the return of cinnamon whispered by honeyed lips.
It smells like a thousand and one nights: floral, subtle, with just the right amount of creaminess and fruitiness ranging from plums to dates.
It is a precise symphony played by an impeccable orchestra. It is not peaty, but the wood flexes its muscles.
On the palate, it is soft, has a smooth rhythm, and has an agile step. The warm sensations do not push too much on the palate and can be drunk smoothly.
Good balance, never overpowering spice, sharp fruit oscillating between ripe grapes and citrus fruits, light herbaceous flavors, and then a tannic and nutty finish from the wood.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master’s Select Price
120–140 euros; it is not given as a gift, but it is a very worked and refined whiskey, and all the processing justifies the price, in theory.
The problem is that it is stylized, a little too crystallized in its crystalline search for Zen pleasure. If you are a lover of Scottish single malt or an experienced drinker with a trained palate, perhaps it will be too meek.
If you have never drunk whiskey or you are just starting to taste it, it is a great whiskey to begin with.