Blended in the Land of the Rising Sun

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

In 1970, the Hibiki 12 Year Old, one of the most elegant blended whiskies in the world, was created in Japan by Suntory. It is only now being exported into the United States.  A blend of more than 30 single malts, including spirits from Suntory’s Yamazaki distillery plus Japanese grain spirits, the whiskies are bamboo filtered and aged for a minimum of 12 years in white oak barrels. They are then finished in umeshu casks formerly used for Japanese plum liqueur. The result is a honeyed spice with a long, elegant finish. Although still elusive, Hibiki, priced at $65, is a worthy prize for those who savor a floral whisky with a lot of body.

Hibiki 12 Year Old was introduced to celebrate the opening of Suntory’s second distillery, Hakushu. With roots going back to 1899, Suntory is Japan’s leader in the single-malt whisky category, having created the award-winning 12 Year Old and the 18 Year Old, both of which are made in its Yamazaki distillery.  These single malts are now joined by Hibiki.  After more than four decades, the wait was worth it. (www.suntory.com)

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