Published on February 7th, 2019 | by Ken Gargett0
Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo des Dieux’ (2011)/Suntory Whisky Hibiki ‘Japanese Harmony’ ‘Masters Select’ Whisky
For Kenfessions this time, it was a dip into the bag of mixed singles. Was not looking for anything too extreme, too large. Just a pleasant evening smoke. In the end, we exceeded that in spades!
So, a des Dieux was perfect – the Hoyo de Monterrey ‘Le Hoyo des Dieux’. From 2011. I think I have a few older boxes (00, 03, 08? although a little inner voice is saying, no, you’ve smoked the lot – hope not and need to check. An even smaller voice says I had a cabinet of these from ?, in the days of unbanded cigars, but I note that cabs of these were discontinued in 06?? That would be a pleasant find).
I’m sure that the des Dieux is well known to most – if unfamiliar to you, change that asap. I can’t recall ever hearing anyone claim to be unhappy with these – a real achievement for a smoke that is not trying to resemble a baseball bat. And they are definitely smokes which benefit from at least five years, but even more so, a good decade.
This one was in good condition with a lovely dark oily wrapper. But wait, before kicking off, I was tossing up what to match with it. Went for a Japanese whisky.
The cigar started brilliantly. From the first puff, immediate cream. As we moved further, spices, a touch of pepper and some cocoa powder, good complexity, a hint of chocolate but minimal at this stage. As we progressed further into it, there was a sweet core and then oodles of cream and chocolate. There is some of the Hoyo woodiness, but it does not intrude. And the further we went, the darker the chocolate. Finally, some coffee bean came in near the end. There was balance throughout and great length of flavour. If a negative note of any kind, it was only that it really seemed surprisingly young. Seven or eight years has done wonders but it has further to go to reach its peak. Such a joy. For me, 95-96. Just loved it.
So, the drink? From the Suntory Whisky portfolio, this was the Hibiki ‘Japanese Harmony’ ‘Master’s Select’ Whisky. Japanese whisky has been the hot flavour of the month for a number of years. In a different thread on the forum, I mentioned that an old mate of mine, living in Tokyo, came for a visit recently. He brought a fine Malt – from Scotland – which was most welcome, but I thought a smidge curious. But still, very happy with the choice. Later, we were chatting and he mentioned that he had hoped to bring me a good Japanese whisky but at the airport, there was not a single bottle. Not one. If that doesn’t confirm the shortage, what will? I did pick up a few mixed bottles at the Brizzy airport on a recent trip, but was lucky. They told me that they had arrived the evening before and even thought they had several dozen, they doubted they’d last the day. This was one of them.
And it was a cracking spirit. So easy to see why these whiskies have captured the international attention of whisky fans. Honey, cinnamon, spices, hint of leather, ginger and a whiff of nutmeg. It had great length. Loved it.
And needless to say, one of the better matches of recent times.
Worth noting that this whisky differs from the normal ‘Japanese Harmony’ from Hibiki – not easy to pick from the label. Look for a thin horizontal purple bar to differentiate. The makers have described it as “a harmonious blend of innumerous malt and grain whiskies which are meticulously blended to create a full orchestra of flavors and aromas”. I suspect that as well as creating a fabulous whisky, they have created a new word – “innumerous”? Their notes later suggest that in fact they have used ten different components in the blend – so does innumerous equal ten? No matter.
Hibiki was launched in 1989, the 90th anniversary of Suntory. The Master’s Select is aged in “Yamazaki Sherry Casks”. They talk of it featuring plums in syrup, orange marmalade and dark chocolate. The last two, for sure, but I really do not see plums. One man’s plums…? The concept was that this is a more expensive and more exclusive than the standard Japanese Harmony, and it is largely a travel retail product.
Could not recommend both the cigar and the whisky more, and matching them will give you an even more exciting experience.