We’re celebrating our 4th anniversary week by honouring a different Japanese whisky distillery or brand every day this week, leading us right up to a super-exciting launch event in Tokyo on June 10th.
Each and every one of those that we are honouring have made an outstanding contribution to both the Japanese and world whisky industries, bringing delicious expressions and fantastic stories to whisky-lovers everywhere.
We’ve already celebrated Yamazaki and Nikka and today it’s time to look at a brand that is responsible for some of the best blended whiskies we have ever tasted. Each of their expressions have won a huge number of awards and they are all sought after by enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. Of course, we’re talking about Hibiki.
Day 3 – Hibiki Day
Hibiki is a Suntory brand of blended whisky that was first introduced in 1989 to commemorate the drinks giant’s 90th anniversary. An impressive milestone that demanded an impressive whisky in celebration, and they hit the nail on the head with Hibiki.
The brand started with just two age-statement blended expressions, a 17 Year Old and a 21 Year Old. They hit the ground running as Japanese whisky drinkers set out to explore this new range from Suntory, and what they discovered was two incredible creations.
As Japanese whisky exploded onto the world market in the early 2000s, a time that is now affectionately known by those in the industry as “The Japanese Whisky Boom”, Hibiki rapidly grew in popularity and today it is seen as one of the most exceptional blended whiskies available worldwide.
One of the main catalysts in Hibiki’s rapid rise to prominence was the international recognition that it started to gain in the aforementioned period. This began with the Hibiki 30 picking up a trophy at the International Spirits Challenge in 2004 and 2006, but the whisky really hit the headlines in 2007 when it was named “World’s Best Blended Whisky” at the World Whiskies Awards.
The top awards at this prestigious event always significantly increase the popularity of the winner, and this, combined with the growing popularity of Japanese whisky in general, propelled Hibiki to the forefront of the industry.
Since then, the brand has only continued to grow, as whisky-lovers in all corners of the globe discover the harmonious flavour profile and characteristics of the masterful creations.
“Harmony” is a word that is often associated with Hibiki whisky. This started as a buzzword used in the brand’s marketing, but people soon realised that it wasn’t a marketing tool alone, it was in fact very true.
Those at Suntory have always seen blending as an art form, and indeed it is, arguably even more so than in the production of single malt whisky
Blending requires an incredible nose, palate and a deep understanding of the whiskies that you are working with, and what the results will be when two, three, four or more are mixed together.
This is never better explained than by legendary Suntory founder Sinjiro Torii who stated, “To become a blender at Suntory, one needs to be able to communicate with whiskies that cannot speak.”
This fantastic quote highlights the attention to detail needed by any blender, but also the skyscraping standards that those making Hibiki whisky are held to, so it’s no wonder the expressions turn out incredible.
World Class Blended Whisky
In terms of international recognition, Hibiki has built on its initial successes year on year, picking up an almost incomprehensible number of awards for their expressions.
The famous 21 Year Old has won the coveted “World’s Best Blended Whisky” award in six of the last nine years, an achievement that really can’t be overstated, particularly given how crowded today’s whisky world is.
The 12, 17 and NAS (non-age-statement) Japanese Harmony Master’s Select have also picked up Gold and Double Gold awards at highly regarded spirits competitions around the world.
To have such high levels of quality across a full range of whiskies is unparalleled in the industry. Making a world class blend is no mean feat, but to make upwards of five and have them all as part of your core range is absolutely extraordinary.
Hibiki Whisky has taken the world by storm, opened many people’s eyes to the possibilities within the blended whisky category and enticed millions of fans and aficionados around the globe with their delicate yet complex characteristics.
A truly magnificent branch of Suntory that deserves more praise than we can possibly give.