12 Year Old Hibiki Japanese Blended Whisky and a Japanese Import Edition of the Scorpions Tokyo Tapes
Delicious rays of whiskey gold from the eastern shores of Japan. While not the first locale that comes to mind when you think of great whiskey but let me just say; it truly should be. The legendary Hibiki represents true harmony. The enigma of perfection, the paragon of the art of whisky and the art of Japan’s artisans.
Hibiki, meaning resonance in Japanese, speaks to the soul and emotions of the most discerning whisky lover. Hibiki resonates from nature, and all the subtleties found from the twenty-four seasons of the old Japanese lunar calendar. Numerous types of pure single malt whiskies ageing in various types of casks, including Mizunara, a very rare Japanese oak, all combine to create a full orchestra of flavors and aromas.
I sampled the Hibiki neat, straight up to truly savor the craftsmanship that went into this blended art. I put on “Tokyo Tapes” as I usually do starting with side B of this 4 sided live behemoth of soulful classic metal. A song like “We’ll Burn the Sky” just kicks things off in the Scorpions spirit for me. I usually go back to side one before switching to the second vinyl. The only downside toi the Tokyo Tapes in my opinion is the rocibilly cover songs they threw into the live set. I mean I get the nostalgia but it’s the Scorpions man not Carl Perkins!
Uli Jon Roth’s early work in my opinion is probably best represented by this particular recording. I’m not as much a fan of the neo-classical, Yngwie like stylings he perfected after this era. I’m much more of a fan of this Hendrix esq bluesy era and I’ve got to admit, he’s one of the only guitarists that when I listen to his playing, I feel as though I can truly visualize exactly what he’s playing. Almost as if, I’ve played the parts myself. There’s not many guitarists that I relate to on this level. Essentially, this era of his playing is so much like what I aspire to do with the guitar and so similar to my own style that I can actually picture in my mind what and how he’s playing it. It’s a bit bizarre.
Anyway, enough of my Uli Jon Roth guitar visualizing. Back to the whiskey!
On the trivia side of things, any fan of the movie “Lost in Translation” may recognize the Hibiki as the whisky Bill Murray was hawking in the movie. As one of my favorite movies this only makes this whiskey that much hipper.
Upon taking my first sip of the 12-year-old Hibiki the first thing that came to mind was “Silk”. It’s truly a silky smooth vibe as this creation hits your palette and slides down the back of your throat. Then the kaleidoscope finish of flavors kick in. The woody hint of the barrels that reveal themselves slowly with a long finish that lasts for two or three minutes with clean and sweet notes predominant before a cool spiciness reminiscent of white pepper emerges towards the finish.
I actually own the original USA pressing of “Tokyo Tapes” but that copy is in such bad shape that I had to reinvest in another copy. I found this Japanese import gem using musicstack.com which is a great services for searching independent resellers of used vinyl and CD’s to find that special edition you might be looking for. I’ve ordered numerous times from various dealers and have had nothing but great experiences each time. This Japanese pressing of Tokyo Tapes is remastered and features a much cooler cover image, that of an embossed silver scorpion perched upon a rose. Way slicker than the American pressing that I grew up with. In terms of audio quality I have to lean towards the original pressing before the remaster. As with many reissue remasters, this one sounds a bit flatter and was probably digitized before it went back to the wax. So while this edition is truly a great looking package; I may need a third copy and just get a better conditioned US pressing to replace my old thrashed copy.
I truly can’t wait to try more of the Hibiki, this being the youngest aged whiskey they make, I can only imagine what the older vintages might reveal. Someday. Oh yes, someday soon my new Japanese friend Hibiki. we will meet again!