History and Background of Hibiki Whisky
In 1989, Suntory launched Hibiki Whisky to commemorate their 90th anniversary, and it has since become a celebrated symbol of The Art of Japanese Whisky. Hibiki is a reflection of Japanese nature and the people who craft it, and it has been embraced by whisky enthusiasts around the world. Not only is Hibiki Japan's most highly awarded blended whisky, but it is also considered one of the most prestigious and honored whiskies in the world!
Hibiki Whisky is a highly desirable Japanese whisky brand that has gained a reputation for excellence and a unique flavor profile that is enjoyed by whisky enthusiasts around the world. The desirability of Hibiki can be attributed to its attention to detail and commitment to quality, which has earned it numerous awards, including the prestigious World Whiskies Award for Best Japanese Blend in 2017 and 2019. The brand's popularity has also grown due to its distinctive flavor profile, which is achieved through the careful blending of different whiskies from Suntory's distilleries. Hibiki Japanese Harmony, in particular, has become a favorite among whisky drinkers for its smooth and well-balanced taste, which features notes of honey, orange, and white chocolate.
The Hibiki range includes a variety of products that cater to different tastes and preferences. The Hibiki 17 Year Old, for example, is aged in different casks to add complexity to the flavor, while the Hibiki Harmony Master's Select is a limited edition blend that features rare and aged whiskies.
Overview of Suntory's Hibiki whiskies
Hibiki’s original or “retro” White Label and Limited Edition Gold Label, produced from 1987 to 1994, were created by master blenders Saji and Inatomi. The Hibiki 17 was launched in 1989, presented in a 24-faceted 750ml bottle and without an age statement, but widely accepted as Hibiki 17 Years Old by Master Sommeliers. This fine selection of thirty malt and grain whiskies was a blend of aged whiskies from Suntory’s three distilleries: Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita.
In 1994, Hibiki 17 no age statement label was replaced by two age statement whiskies, the “Hibiki 17 Years Old” and the “Hibiki 21 Years Old”, each displaying their own masterful blend of delicate notes. The Hibiki 17 Years Old is a multi-award-winning bottle that shows off the power of Japanese whisky making technique and more specifically, the Mizunara oak tree. The 750mL version of Hibiki 17 Year Old Limited Edition Gold Label, also known as the "Gold & Gold" or the “Double Gold,” was released in the mid-1990s ahead of the Suntory 100th Anniversary in 1999. The 24-facet bottle is distinguished with gold labels on the front and back, housed in a silk-lined gold commemorative gift box.
Hibiki 17 Year Old
The Hibiki 17 Years Old, the first of two age statement whiskies, was released in 1994 and is the benchmark of the Hibiki family. The second age statement whisky, the 21 Years Old, was released in 1994, and the older Hibiki 21 Years Old expression has a more Mizunara characteristic with a weighty body, heavy coconut and sandalwood aroma, and a balanced sweet and spice-driven taste profile. The Hibiki 30 Years Old, released in 1997, is both the matriarch and patriarch of Hibiki whisky, carefully selected from barrels ranging in age from 21 to 30 years old by Suntory’s Master Blenders.
Hibiki 12 Year Old
The Hibiki 12 Years Old, produced from 2009 to 2015, was discontinued due to a lack of sufficiently aged spirit, but its liquid exhibited an immediate woody note on the nose, with the brighter, more acidic notes relegated to a supporting role.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony
Japanese Harmony, released in 2015, was the first of Hibiki’s modern-day non-age statement (NAS) whiskies, a meticulous and refined blend that offers a symphony of more than 10 malt and grain whiskies and defines the essence of Hibiki non-age statement whiskies. The Japanese Harmony Master’s Select is a duty-free exclusive and a different blend than the Japanese Harmony containing a modified blend of 10 different Japanese malt and grain whiskies. The Blender’s Choice was released in 2018 following the cessation of the Hibiki 17 Years Old, built upon the 10 malt and grain whiskies of the Japanese Harmony, the blend includes carefully selected vintages with the addition of wine cask-aged whiskies, married together by Suntory’s team of expert blenders delivering a rounded, well-balanced profile with immense depth. Production is limited, and distribution is on an allocation basis.
Hibiki Blossom Harmony 2021 is a unique blend of standard Hibiki and Sakura cask finished whiskies, with a focus on the revered cherry blossoms of Japan. The box features a decorative display of '100 flowers suitable for celebration', while the bottle label showcases Suntory's meticulous attention to product design. In accordance with Japanese custom, it is customary to give gifts twice a year to those who have taken care of you, known as Ochugen and Oseibo. Hibiki Blossom Harmony is specifically intended as a gift for the Ochugen season.
Hibiki 30 Year Old
The Hibiki 30 Year Old was first released in 1997. It is a blend of rare and aged malt and grain whiskies from the Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries, and has been aged for a minimum of 30 years. The release of the Hibiki 30 Year Old was a celebration of this commitment to excellence, and represented the pinnacle of the Hibiki range. It was created by the chief blender at Suntory, Shinji Fukuyo, who carefully selected and blended the rare and aged whiskies to create a complex and nuanced flavor profile.
It has won numerous awards and accolades, including the World's Best Blended Whisky at the World Whiskies Awards in 2016. Despite its popularity, the production of Hibiki 30 Year Old has been limited, with only a few batches released since its initial introduction. As a result, it is a highly prized collector's item and can fetch prices of tens of thousands of dollars at auction or on the secondary market.
Hibiki 35 Year Old
Hibiki 35 Year Old was first released in 2016. It is a blend of rare and aged whiskies from Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries, and has been aged for 35 years in Japanese oak casks.
Due to its limited availability and high quality, Hibiki 35 Year Old has become one of the most coveted and expensive whiskies in the world. While both the Hibiki 30 and Hibiki 35 are highly sought-after and rare Japanese whiskies, the Hibiki 35 is even more limited in production and availability. The Hibiki 35 Year Old was only released once in 2016 as a limited edition, while the Hibiki 30 Year Old has been released multiple times since its introduction.
Additionally, the Hibiki 35 Year Old was produced in much smaller quantities than the Hibiki 30 Year Old, making it more difficult to find and acquire. This has contributed to the Hibiki 35 Year Old's higher price point and greater rarity compared to the Hibiki 30 Year Old.
The price of a Hibiki 35 Year Old can vary depending on a variety of factors such as its condition, rarity, and location of sale. However, it is widely considered to be one of the most expensive and sought-after Japanese whiskies, with prices ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As of my knowledge, the retail price of a new bottle of Hibiki 35 Year Old was around $12,000 to $15,000 USD. However, due to its rarity and high demand, it is not uncommon for bottles to be sold at auction or on the secondary market for much higher prices.
It is important to note that the price of Hibiki 35 Year Old, like many rare whiskies, can fluctuate based on a variety of factors and may be higher or lower than the prices mentioned above.
Overall, Suntory Hibiki Whisky is a must-try for anyone interested in Japanese whisky. Its reputation for excellence, attention to detail, and unique flavor profile make it highly desirable and sought after by whisky connoisseurs around the world!