About Hibiki Whisky
While whiskey is unique to each locale, utilizing different grain mash ratios and distillation methods, it shares one common trait everywhere: story. Whether it’s Scotch whisky, American Bourbon whiskey, or Japanese whisky, the spirit tells a story of the palate and history of a people, and is shared among friends where storytelling is ripe.
The word “Hibiki” means harmony, and Hibiki Whisky is just that: a harmonious blend of malt and grain that celebrates the craftsmanship and luxury of Suntory. These blended whiskies are Japan’s most highly awarded, and are among the most prestigious whiskies in the world.
To blend these award winning whiskies, the Hibiki Master Blender tastes over 300 samples per day, refining his or her palate consistently and listening to the unspoken words communicated by the whiskies until the perfect blend presents itself.
Where to Buy Hibiki
Hibiki is the premier Japanese whisky, and it can be found at some large liquor stores with a generous top shelf whisky and whiskey selection. It won’t be found in markets like Costco and Walmart, and availability at liquor stores will be extremely rare, so if you would like to guarantee stock of your favorite Hibiki whisky consider purchasing online from CaskCartel.com and other auction and rare bottle sites.
Hibiki Whisky Prices
|Hibiki: Japanese Harmony||43% (66 proof)||750 ml||$109|
|Hibiki: Japanese Harmony Master’s Select||43% (66 proof)||750 ml||$3,000|
|Hibiki: Japanese Harmony 30 Year Anniversary Limited Edition||43% (66 proof)||750 ml||$1,200|
|Hibiki: Blender’s Choice||43% (66 proof)||700 ml||$600|
|Hibiki: 12 Year||43% (66 proof)||500 ml||$1,200|
|Hibiki: 17 Year||43% (66 proof)||375 ml||$1,500|
|Hibiki: 21 Year||43% (66 proof)||500 ml||$2,000|
|Hibiki: 21 Year Mount Fuji Limited Edition||43% (66 proof)||500 ml||$8,800|
|Habiki: 21 Year Kutani Yaki Limited Edition||43% (66 proof)||600 ml||$11,600|
|Hibiki: 30 year||43% (66 proof)||750 ml||$10,000|
Hibiki Whisky Buying Guide
Exploring the world of Hibiki whisky enlightens drinkers to the taste of Japan, and each whisky from the lineup offers a different window into that world.
This light bodied whisky has hints of rose, lychee, and a sandalwood woodiness on the nose. The flavor rings of honey and orange peel with subtle notes of white chocolate. On the finish, this whisky has a subtle lingering Japanese oak flavor.
This 17-year aged Japanese whisky is medium bodied with stone fruit, melon, and floral scents on the nose. With rich black cherry, vanilla, and oak flavors, this whisky has a sweet finish with lingering flavors of raisined fruit.
This is Hibiki’s dark, full-bodied whisky, hitting the nose with scents of ripened, caramelized fruit. Sandalwood and Japanese oak are prevalent on the palate, with a lingering honeycomb and dried stone fruit finish.
This is Hibiki’s longest-aged and most full-bodied whisky. It tastes ripe and smells smoky. The finish is lingering, and it’s best enjoyed at the end of a long day with a cigar.
The Best Way(s) to Drink Hibiki Japanese Whisky
Drinking Hibiki is a peek into the world of Japanese tradition, heritage, and ritual. It should be savored, not chugged. Here are some recipes and rituals to enhance, not dilute, Hibiki.
A Hibiki cocktail should accentuate the whisky itself. These cocktails are sure to highlight the notes and flavors of your Hibiki.
1) The Harmony Old Fashioned
- 1 brown sugar cube
- 1 black cherry
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 oz Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky
- 1 orange twist
Muddle sugar, bitters, and black cherry in a rocks glass. Add one large ice ball, followed by the whisky. Stir thoroughly with a bar spoon, 20-30 rotations, until chilled. Twist orange peel over drink to release aromatics into the glass, and place the twist in the cocktail to garnish.
2) Whisky Manhattan
- 2 ounces Hibiki Japanese Harmony
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Skewered black cherry, for garnish
Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Stir thoroughly with a bar spoon, 20-30 turns, until chilled. Strain into a coupe, and garnish with skewered black cherry.
3) Hibiki Sazerac
- 1.3 oz. Hibiki Japanese Harmony
- 0.25 oz. absinthe
- 1 cube sugar
- 3 dashes bitters of choice
- Lemon twist for garnish
Muddle sugar and bitters, add the whisky and stir thoroughly with ice. Strain into an old-fashioned glass that’s been chilled and rinsed with absinthe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
4) Hibiki Roy
- 2 ounces Hibiki Japanese Harmony
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Black cherries for garnish
Add the whisky, sweet vermouth and bitters into a cocktail shaker with ice and stir thoroughly with a bar spoon. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with 3 skewered black cherries.
6 Best Things to Mix with Hibiki
Hibiki is founded upon Japanese tradition, and drinking it is a ritual. Here are six simple Japanese whisky rituals to enhance the spirit.
- Hibiki Highball: Fill a highball glass with ice, then pour 1.5 oz of whisky over ice. Stir with a bar spoon until chilled, and fill with soda water. Stir once with the spoon from bottom to top of the glass, and add a twist of citrus of choice.
- Hibiki Neat: Pour 1.5 oz of whisky into a short glass. Prepare a glass of water to enjoy alongside your whisky neat.
- Hibiki on the Rocks: Add a large ice ball to a rocks glass. Pour 1.5 oz of whisky over the ice ball and stir gently with a bar spoon. Enjoy alongside a glass of water.
- Hibiki Half Rock: This is similar to Hibiki on the rocks, but incorporates equal parts water and whisky. Pour whisky over a large rock, stir gently, and pour equal parts water to whisky on top. Stir gently again and enjoy.
- Hibiki and Water: Fill a regular glass with ice and let it chill. Then, pour 1.5 oz of Hibiki over ice and stir thoroughly. Fill the glass with water, gently stir, and enjoy.
- Hot Hibiki: Hot spirits are a tradition of Japan. To enjoy this ritual, warm a mug with hot water. Then dispose of the water, pour 1.5 oz of Hibiki into the glass, and top with hot water. Stir, and enjoy.
The Story of Hibiki Whisky
The story of Hibiki begins with its founder, Shinjiro Torii, in 1923. He was raised during the Meiji period, one in which Western influence suddenly flooded Japanese soil. He learned of grape wines, Western fashion and style, and Scotch whisky, and he was fascinated by the juxtaposition it posed to his own culture.
In early adulthood, Torii pursued the art of mixology and subsequently refined his palate and nose. His affinity for liquor from around the world became a passion, and when he inherited his family’s fortune in 1923 he devoted it all to developing his own distillery.
He wanted to experience a whisky that tasted of Japanese nature, hand-distilled by artisans who would imbue the beverage with grain, soil, water, and air of Japan. He wanted it to be true to the nature of whisky while suiting the delicate palates of the Japanese people, complimenting their food and enhancing their lives.
His inspiration began with the whiskys of Scotland, terroir driven and rich in heritage. Scotch tastes like Scotland, and he wanted his Japanese whisky to taste of Japan, enhancing the nature of the terroir. He identified the Yamazaki region of Japan as his ideal location to birth the first ever Japanese whisky, and from this The House of Suntory was born.
While Torii encountered resistance from all his business partners at the beginning of his journey into distilling Japanese whisky, his whisky empire expanded to eventually encompass three distilleries in Japan and a lineup of several top shelf Japanese whiskies and other various spirits. Included in this lineup is a range of whiskies called Hibiki, “the paragon of Japanese whisky”, initiated to celebrate the 90th anniversary of The House of Suntory.
Alternatives to Hibiki Japanese Whisky
Hibiki isn’t cheap, and it’s also not widely available. Whether you’d like to dip your toe in with some more affordable Japanese whisky or you can’t get you hands on a bottle of the Hibiki, here are some other comparable options you could try.
- Mars Iwai 45 Japanese Whisky- $40: This is a great introduction into Japanese whisky. Suntory paved the way so that other brands could build on their ideas with more accessible options.
- Kaiyo Mizunara Oak Whisky- $65: This whisky is aged in Mizunara oak, and is oak-heavy on the flavor profile. If you prefer heavily-oaked American whiskeys and would like to try a Japanese alternative, this will be an interesting buy for you.
- Tenjaku Pure Malt Japanese Whisky- $80: While Hibiki is a blended malt and grain whisky, Tenjaku Pure Malt is a pure malt variety. It isn’t bolder but still maintains the true Japanese flavor.
- Komagatake Mars Whisky- $195: This single malt whisky celebrates the refurbishments made to Mars Shinshu, a distillery hidden away in the Nagano Alps.
- Yamato Takeda Edition- $375: This specific blend of Yamato is based on extensive research about the flavor profile most Japanese people prefer. Master Distillers took great care to make a whisky that perfectly caters to the Japanese people, so for a true taste of Japan that pairs excellently with Japanese cuisine, try this.
- Hakushu Single Malt 18 Year- $1000: This single-malt Japanese whisky has been aged for 18 years in Japanese oak. Hakushu is one of Hibiki’s biggest contenders, and is a great top-shelf alternative.