Japan’s most celebrated blended whisky, Hibiki, will turn 30 in a few months, and the brand’s parent company is offering impatient imbibers an early opportunity to toast Hibiki’s pearl anniversary with a new release. Well, new-ish, in any event. Truth be told, the House of Suntory might have gone a little overboard in dubbing the release the Japanese Harmony Holiday Gift Pack ($100) when what it is, really, is an existing Hibiki expression (originally introduced back in 2015) housed inside a different package. That said, the new bottle—er, gift pack—is awfully nice, featuring a kimono-inspired label embellished with the tabane-noshi, a traditional Japanese design that symbolizes shared happiness with others.
Of course, it’s what’s in the bottle that matters most, and Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a splendid synthesis of craft and components. Esteemed master blender Shinji Fukuyo personally selected the malt- and grain-based whiskies used in the blend, all culled from Suntory’s Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries and aged in a variety of casks including ex-bourbon, sherry, and mizunara oak. The latter, sourced in Japan, is one of the most expensive types of oak in the world and is renowned for imparting tropical flavors. Suntory relies heavily on mizunara aging for its most prestigious whiskies.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony presents an olfactory indulgence of rose petal, lychee, rosemary, and citrus, with a zingy green top note. The flavor profile is, like most Japanese whiskies, characteristically sweet and subtle. Up front there’s honey, cream, and candied-orange-peel flavor, followed by white chocolate, spiced oak, and a slight suggestion of mint. The finish is clean and clear. Hibiki Japanese Harmony is bottled at 43 percent ABV. The Holiday Gift Pack will be available through 2018.