Color: medium amber
Nose: cherries, hibiscus, vanilla, cloves
Taste: black cherries, rose hips, green tea, toasted almond, mild smoke
Finish: long and complex
Value: honestly, this stuff is EXPENSIVE!
[Quick note: No, Suntory did NOT send me this whisky. I procured it on a trip to Tokyo a year or two ago]
It’s been about 4 years since I last reviewed a Japanese whisky. And I’ll be honest, I was only mildly impressed.
I believe my exact words were: “this Japanese whiskey tastes like it’s trying too hard.”
Yes, Japanese booze, in general, has come a LONG way in the past 4 years. And Suntory, the parent company to the Hibiki label, has been leading the charge towards not just high-quality whisky, but high class whisky. When Jim Murray hailed Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 the best whisky in the world 3 years ago, everyone sat up and took notice. And Suntory has stayed hard at work since, continuing to deliver quality booze.
Since it’s too late for my signature “Let’s Not Mince Words™” statement, let me say this:
Suntory Time, is good.
As you know by now, Hibiki is a Japanese blended whiskey. I’m still pretty sure that Suntory blends Hibiki for the purpose of bringing the best of multiple worlds into one bottle. And in Hibiki 17 Kacho Fogetsu, the goal is apparent: floral notes. It’s impossible to ignore the chrysanthemums and peonys painted on the bottle.
While I don’t smell or taste those flowers in this whisky, other floral notes do pop up. Cherry blossoms, hibiscus, and rose petals waft in with a healthy dose of vanilla and cloves when sniffing this amber liquid.
Hibiki 17 Kacho Fogetsu is exceedingly hard to come by…
Diving in for a full taste reveals layers of blossoms with black stone fruit, dry green tea, baking spices, toasted nuts, and a decent amount of smoke. As I’ve stated before, I’m not a fan of prominent smoke. I have, however, come to appreciate Tennessee Whiskey; which, as we all know, is loaded with charcoal flavors. So, with Hibiki 17 Kacho Fogetsu, the smoke is a welcome complexity, not a cloying peaty mess. And even with all that complexity, Hibiki 17 Kacho Fogetsu manages to remain light bodied.
The finish here is long and complex. There’s a notable je ne sais quoi with this whisky that becons further investigation; always a good thing. The problem here is two fold:
1. Hibiki 17 Kacho Fogetsu is exceedingly hard to come by, and…
2. …it sports a price tag further showcasing its rarity.
All that is my way of saying:
While this is a singular, excellent, classy, quality whisky; it is clearly reserved for the most ardent of collectors. (And yes, I am one.)
And with that, I proclaim:
Final Rating: 96 out of 100