[Review] Hibiki Blender’s Choice

Suntory

Released in September 2018 as the successor line to Hibiki 17 Year.

It is said to have an average age of 15 years, with some parts of it made from long term aged raw materials that exceed 30 years. It has a mellow and deep taste.

1. Manufacturer

Suntory Spirits Co.

Established 1899
Headquarters Location2-3-3 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-8631, Japan
Owned distillery●Japan
Yamazaki Distillery, Hakushu Distillery, Chita Distillery
●Scotland
Ardmore distillery, Glengilly distillery, Auchentoshan distillery, Bowmore distillery, Laphroig distillery
●Ireland
Cooley distillery, Kilbeggan distillery
●United States
Jim Beam distillery, Maker’s Mark distillery
●Canada
Hiram Walker distillery, Alberta distillery

2. distillery

“The raw materials that make up the deep flavors of Hibiki are nurtured at Suntory’s three distilleries. The Yamazaki Distillery was built in Yamazaki, Kyoto, a place that boasts of its famous water. The malt liquor born in this humid place, where the three rivers Uji, Katsura and Kizu converge, has a gorgeous and elegant flavor.
The Hakushu Distillery is located in Yamanashi, embraced by Mount Kai Komagatake. The malt liquor produced in the forest, which is rare in the world, has a light mouthfeel and a refreshing aroma.
The grain, which is the keystone of the blended whisky flavor, enhances the character of the malt and brings the whole into harmony. It is produced at the Chita Distillery on the Chita Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture, overlooking Ise Bay.

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

Location 5-2-1 Yamazaki, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka 618-0001, Japan
Start of operation 1923

The Yamazaki Distillery was established in 1923 as the first malt whisky distillery in Japan. At a time when whiskey was still a rare drink for the general public, Shinjiro Torii set out to create a Japanese whiskey that would suit the delicate taste of the Japanese people. With this passion in his heart, Shinjiro Torii set out to make whiskey.
Shinjiro was particular about the Japanese climate. Water and the environment were especially important to him. Yamazaki is the home of the famous water called Minase no, which was written about in the Manyo poem.
The tea master Sen no Rikyu loved this place and the water was perfect for making whiskey. The natural environment was also perfect.
Yamazaki is located in the southwest of Kyoto, at the foot of Tennozan (Mt. Tenno), where bamboo groves grow thickly, and is rich in nature where you can feel the seasonal changes. Located at the confluence of the Katsura, Uji, and Kizu Rivers, and surrounded by mountains, Yamazaki is prone to thick fog and has a warm and humid climate, which is ideal for maturing whisky.

“Nobujiro decided to make Yamazaki the home of whisky, saying, “Yamazaki is the only place with this water and climate to make good whisky.
Reference: YAMAZAKI MOMENTS

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery
1923 Yamazaki distillery was built. The first whisky distillery in Japan.
1929 Released the first domestically produced whisky, Shirofuda.
1937 Released “Kakubin”.
1984 Released single malt whisky “Yamazaki”.
1992 – Single malt whisky ” Yamazaki 18 years ” was launched.
1998 – Single malt whisky “Yamazaki 25 years” was launched.

Image courtesy of Yamazaki Club

For more information on the Yamazaki Distillery, please see this article.

Suntory Hakushu Distillery

Location 2913-1 Toribaru, Hakushu-cho, Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture, 408-0316, Japan
Start of operation 1973

In 1973, exactly 50 years after Japan’s first whiskey production, the Hakushu Distillery was completed in a lush forest of 820,000 square meters at the foot of Mount Kai Komagatake in the Southern Alps, blessed with abundant nature.
The brewing water is surrounded by the moist atmosphere of the forest, and the Hakushu malt is made with pure and soft natural water from the Southern Alps, polished by granite. The malt is matured over a long period of time in the changing seasons that are unique to Japan, and is the source of the clean, aromatic Hakushu flavor.
In 2014, the company spent 1 billion yen to add four more pot stills, bringing the total number of stills to 16. A wide variety of pot stills of different sizes and shapes are used to make different types of sake. The storage room is a rack type with a high ceiling. The temperature and humidity are not controlled by hand, but are left to nature.

1973 Hakushu distillery was built.
1994 Release of Hakushu 12 years
2006 Release of Hakushu 18 years
2008 Release of Hakushu 25 years

Image credit: Suntory Official Forest Distillery

For more information about Hakushu Distillery, please see this article.

Suntory Chita Distillery

Location 16 Kitahamacho, Chita City, Aichi Prefecture, 478-0046, Japan
Start of operation 1973

The Chita Distillery, located on the Chita Peninsula overlooking Ise Bay, is a grain whisky distillery established by the Suntory Group in collaboration with the Zen-Noh Group, and is one of the three domestic whisky distilleries of the Suntory Group, along with the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries for malt whisky. Here, corn-based grain whisky has been supported. The Chita Distillery uses continuous distillation to produce three types of grain whiskey: clean, medium and heavy, which is unique in the world.

3. Product name and photo

Hibiki Blender’s Choice

4. Characteristics

A harmony of sweetly resonant, diverse raw materials and master craftsmanship

The taste of whisky changes greatly depending on the cask in which it is laid down, and the most commonly used cask is bourbon, sherry, and Japanese oak. In general, wine barrels have a strong sense of oddity, but whiskeys that have been laid down in wine barrels often have a fruity and sweet taste, which creates a mellow and sweet taste and a well-balanced flavor even if the aging period is short.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaWild strawberry, white peach, pineapple, crème brûlée
TastePlump sweetness, pleasant acidity
AftertasteSoft and sweet with a bittersweet aftertaste.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content43% alcohol by volume
alcohol categoryblended whisky
Barrel typeBourbon barrels, sherry barrels, Quercus serrata barrels, wine barrels
Contents700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested retail price11,000 yen (tax included)
Release dateSeptember, 2018

5. Award history

No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameHibiki Blender’s Choice
Capacity700ml
Suggested Retail PriceTax included: 11,000 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 10,000 yen to 15,000 yen. (*As of April 19, 2021)

6-3. Yahoo auction bidding price

The current prices on Yahoo Auction are as follows: Lowest price: 8,000 yen, Highest price: 17,800 yen, Average price: 11,174 yen(*as of April 19, 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

You can find them on mail order sites for around 12,000 yen to 15,000 yen. (*As of April 19, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR SHINKAI

At “BAR SHINKAI”, which is operated by our website, we offer even small amounts such as 1 glass, 45ml: 3,300 yen, 30ml: 2,200 yen, 15ml: 1,100 yen.

7. Summary

The body is medium to light. The body is medium to light, and you can feel a little alcohol from the young sake, but not to the point of disgust. When it was first released, it was not sold to the general public, but was sold only at business stores (restaurants).
I feel that it is a Japanese blended whisky that is worth drinking even if you consider the regular price. It has a taste that is easy to drink for whisky beginners and women, but also has a good balance that whisky lovers can enjoy, which is truly the boundary of blended whisky.

Please check out the other articles about Hibiki.

Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky

If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.

(1). Japanese Whiskey as an Education for Business

This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled ” Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business. “
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.

(2). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whiskey, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
¥1,650
(2021/10/23 16:13:33時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(3). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whiskey boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whiskey, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.

created by Rinker
repicbook(リピックブック)株式会社
¥1,870
(2021/10/23 16:14:54時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(4). Whiskey Rising

This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whiskey can be found.

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