Hibiki Harmony and a Story of Heroic Hospitality
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the best part of writing about alcohol is how eager people seem to be to share it with you. This is especially true when they’re sharing a whisky as good as Suntory’s Hibiki Harmony. This summer (after months of working in our air-conditionless house) we were afforded a little getaway to Christine’s Aunt (Diane’s) and Uncle (Beric’s) lovely Muskoka cottage.
Along with a gorgeous dock, expansive kitchen and (blessed) AC, when we arrived Beric plonked a half-full bottle of Hibiki Harmony on the counter and told me to enjoy during my stay — not a bad way to start a vacation. Needless to say, the bottle did not remain half full for long. But my appreciation of Diane and Beric’s hospitality sure did, only growing with every sip of this wonderful Japanese whisky.
A bit of research shows the Harmony is conducted like a full symphony orchestra. Having spent time in 5 different barrels and blending whiskies from several distilleries (including Yamazaki which I visited) it attempts to deftly combine profiles into a sum greater than its parts. Here’s what I thought:
Hibiki Harmony Whisky Review
With a name like “Harmony” you better be bringing some balance, and Hibiki manages just this. It pours a beautiful light gold, with a noticeable viscosity belying it’s not insubstantial body. On the nose, Hibiki Harmony demonstrates it’s complexity, with strong overtones of honey balanced out with a bit of raspberry, apple, a touch of wood, and even a kind of mild herbal note that was downright surprising (if not unwelcome).
After a sip, the balance really becomes clear with all the flavours playing nice in the sandbox. There’s still the honey, but it’s joined by a bit of nuttiness reminiscent of browned butter. There’s a decent amount of wood spice, and a very mild frutiness that was hard for me to pin down but was probably the standout note.
The Hibiki Harmony finishes sweet and spicy, and it’s pleasantly long, and leaves you smacking your lips. If there was a solid criticism I could make, it’s that there’s no one thing that truly blows me away. No guitar solo to break up the 80’s power ballad, as it were. But if you’re into balance and refinement, you’d be hard pressed to find a better whisky than Hibiki Harmony.
I was spoiled with not only a beautiful cottage weekend, but a damn fine dram this summer. Thanks again to Diane and Beric (who may or may not read this) for the memories.