We’re, fortunately, many years past the time when Japanese whisky was thought-about a novelty. As we speak, spirit connoisseurs the world over uphold Japanese whisky as a shining instance of what the class can do.
Many elements make Japanese whisky distinctive in a world the place whisky manufacturing has grown ever extra world, however maybe none stands out as a lot as mixing. Japanese makers have proven a particular reverence and propensity for this delicate artwork, and maybe no higher expression of this nationwide expertise exists than the Home of Suntory’s legendary Hibiki vary.
Hibiki — which interprets to “resonance” in Japanese — was conceived in 1987 by Grasp Blender Keizo Saji, who wished to create a whisky that will showcase the mixing ethos of the Home of Suntory in time for the corporate’s ninetieth anniversary in 1989. To create the mix, Suntory’s chief blender, Koichi Inatomi, launched into the near-Sisyphean job of sampling the best aged malt whiskies Suntory needed to provide: a quest that in the end noticed Inatomi tasting from 1 million casks over a protracted time period.
Following this monumental tasting effort, Inatomi and Saji narrowed the mix all the way down to a core of 30 malt and grain whiskies developed inside the Suntory distilleries; this led to the creation of what grew to become the primary installment within the Hibiki collection. To guarantee its continued excellence, Suntory’s grasp blender dedicates time every day to pattern totally different malt whiskies, guaranteeing every one meets Home of Suntory’s excessive requirements.
Exploring the 5 Expressions of Hibiki
As we speak, the full Hibiki vary consists of 5 expressions which might be as distinctive as their blends: Hibiki Japanese Concord, Hibiki Japanese Concord Grasp’s Choose, Hibiki 17 Years Outdated, Hibiki 21 Years Outdated, and Hibiki 30 Years Outdated. Whereas the contents of every differ, they share in frequent Suntory’s whole devotion to the artwork of mixing and a novel bottle design impressed by the standard Japanese calendar.
In distinction to the 12-month, four-season calendar mannequin in widespread use immediately, the standard Japanese calendar consists of 24 distinctly outlined seasons. Such a division makes it attainable to give attention to and higher benefit from the intricacies of the seasons as they modify, and this ethos has a direct hyperlink to the artwork of mixing that makes Hibiki attainable. It is just by specializing in the immeasurable complexities and intricacies of the whiskies used to create Hibiki that the ultimate mix turns into attainable.
As a tribute, every of the 5 expressions that represent the Hibiki vary is introduced in a specifically designed decanter bottle with 24 sides — one for every of the historically understood Japanese seasons. This, nonetheless, shouldn’t be the one function of the bottle’s design that calls again to Japanese tradition. A band of deep purple — thought-about by Japanese custom to be the noblest of colours — is discovered round every bottle’s neck.
Since its introduction greater than 30 years in the past, Hibiki has earned many awards within the whisky class. Every expression within the collection earned a “Gold Award” through the 2020 Worldwide Spirits Problem, and Hibiki 21 Years Outdated was named “World’s Finest Blended Whisky” on the 2019 World Whiskies Awards.
To higher perceive how the Hibiki vary has earned such nationwide and worldwide acclaim, it’s price trying into what the artwork of mixing has completed in every of its explicit expressions.
The Style of Hibiki
Hibiki Japanese Concord, which is immediately thought-about the flagship of the Hibiki vary, has a nostril that accommodates rose, lychee, a contact of rosemary, oak, and sandalwood. The primary sips reveal a honey-like sweetness on the palate, chased by candied orange peel and white chocolate earlier than a protracted, tender end spiced by Japan’s mizunara oak seals the deal.
The Japanese Concord Grasp’s Choose, in the meantime, is differentiated by a mix that includes small quantities of Suntory’s extremely coveted Yamazaki sherry casks. This offers it a nostril that options plum syrup, roses, and a candy woodiness adopted by a palate delivering darkish chocolate and marmalade beside a slight bitterness. Its end will be outlined by a pleasantly lingering sweetness kicked up by spices and wooden.
Hibiki 17 Years Outdated strikes us into age-statement territory, and the advantages of age have given its mix a nostril that remembers stone fruits, melon, rose, lily, and lemon leaf. Its palate, in the meantime, is darkened with black cherry, toffee, vanilla, and mizunara, with a surprisingly fruity end that leaves an aftertaste of lychee behind.
Additional growing older, within the case of Hibiki 21 Years Outdated, pulls out fragrant notes of cooked fruits, blackberry, ripe banana, and caramel, adopted up by flavors redolent of sandalwood, honeycombs, dried apricot, and that customary throughout the vary — mizunara. Ultimately, it’s put to mattress with a powerful measure of the wealthy, incense-like taste discovered solely in Japanese oak.
Finally, no Home of Suntory whisky is older — or rarer — than the Hibiki 30 Years Outdated. Aged at a length that few blends see, Hibiki 30 casts leather-based, raisins, prunes, and candy chestnut on the nostril, and follows that with flavors of brown sugar, dried fig, apricot jam, cedar, and gingerbread on the palate. When the end is reached, eventually, it reveals itself as a wealthy mixture of cinnamon and mizunara.
Because the above demonstrates, each expression in Suntory’s rarefied Hibiki line is price looking for out. And whereas its particular person expressions could differ primarily based on age, every affords the chance to expertise the artwork of Japanese mixing at its highest degree
Please drink responsibly.
Suntory Whisky Hibiki® Blended Japanese Whisky, 43% Alc./Vol. ©2022 Beam Suntory Import Co., Chicago, IL.
This text is sponsored by The Home of Suntory.