[Review] Hibiki 21 Years

“Hibiki” is the pinnacle of blended whisky that Japan boasts to the world.
It is said to be a blend of long matured raw materials carefully selected from more than 800,000 unique raw materials produced and stored at the three distilleries owned by Suntory in Japan: Yamazaki Distillery, Hakushu Distillery, and Chita Distillery.
Hibiki is a masterpiece of Suntory whiskey, created by the traditional blending techniques that have been cultivated over the 100 years since the Yamazaki distillery started operations in 1923.
The “Hibiki 21 Year Old” introduced here is blended from raw materials that have been matured for more than 21 years. It is a luxurious whisky that can only be made possible by Suntory, which has a long history of whisky making.

1. Manufacturer

Suntory Spirits Co.

Established 1899
Head office location2-3-3 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-8631, Japan
Owned distilleryJapan
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. Distilleries

Hibiki 21 Year is distilled at Yamazaki Distillery, Hakushu Distillery and Chita Distillery. Hibiki 21 Year Old is made by blending raw materials from three distilleries: Yamazaki Distillery, Hakushu Distillery, and Chita Distillery.

 Location Start of operation
Yamazaki Distillery Yamazaki distillery 618-0001
5-2-1 Yamazaki, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka
1923
Hakushu distillery Hakushu distillery 408-0316
YamanashiHokuto city, Hokuto town, Hakushu town, Toribaru 2913-1
1973
Chita distillery 16 Kitahama-cho, Chita-shi, Aichi-ken 478-0046
16, Kitahamacho, Chita city, Aichi pref.
1973

The Yamazaki Distillery was founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, who decided to make whiskey with a passion to create a Japanese whiskey that would suit the delicate taste of the Japanese people.

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

In order to produce a different type of malt whiskey from the Yamazaki distillery, the Hakushu distillery searched for the best water for making whiskey and selected Hakushu, one of the most famous water areas in Japan, from a nationwide survey. In 1973, exactly 50 years after the Yamazaki distillery started operations, Suntory’s second malt whiskey distillery, Hakushu Distillery, began operations.

Image source: Single Malt Whisky Hakushu

See also this article for more information on the Hakushu distillery.

The Chita Distillery is located on the Chita Peninsula overlooking Ise Bay, where corn-based grain whiskey has been supported. The Chita Distillery uses a continuous distillation system to produce three types of grain whiskey: clean, medium and heavy, which is unique in the world.

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

3. Product name and photo

Hibiki 21 year 

created by Rinker
¥99,000 (2022/09/25 04:05:15時点 楽天市場調べ-詳細)

4. Characteristics

A profound harmony with the ultimate in sweetness

The malt used in this blend is carefully selected from malt that has been aged for more than 21 years. The malt is carefully selected and blended with malt aged 21 years or more, and the grain is also carefully selected and blended with malt aged 21 years or more.

You can enjoy the luxurious harmony of the raw materials that only Suntory’s wide variety of raw materials can provide. The aroma is extremely fruity and sweet, reminiscent of flowers. It is smooth on the palate, with the heavy body and graceful richness of a 21-year-old. The aftertaste is deep and lingering.

4-1. Tasting Notes

AromaRaisin, apricot, strawberry jam, vanilla
TasteCookie, toffee, sweet and sour, spicy
AftertasteRipe fruit notes, pleasant and long finish.

(Source: Hibiki – The Best of Suntory Blended Whiskey – Suntory)

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content43%
By liquorblended whisky
Barrel typeMainly Yamazaki sherry casks
Contents700ml
Number of bottles sold
Suggested Retail Price27,500 yen (tax included)
Release date1994

5. Awards

2004 ISC Gold Award
2005 ISC Gold Award
2006 ISC Gold Medal
2010 WWA “World’s Best Blended Whisky”
2010 ISC Gold Medal
2010 IWSC Gold Award “Best in Class”
2011 WWA “World’s Best Blended Whisky”
2011 IWSC Gold Award “Best in Class”
2012 ISC Gold Medal
2013 WWA “World’s Best Blended Whisky”
2013 ISC “Trophy” , highest award
2014 ISC “Trophy” , highest award
2015 ISC “Trophy” ,
highest award
2016 WWA “World’s Best Blended Whisky”
2016 ISC “Trophy” , highest award
2017 WWA “World’s Best Blended Whisky”
2017 ISC “Trophy” , highest award
2017 ISC “Supreme Champion Spirit ” *.
2018 ISC “Trophy” , highest award
2019 WWA Highest Award “World’s Best Blended Whisky”

* The ISC (International Spirits Challenge) is for distilled liquors, and there are whiskey, brandy, rum, white spirits, and liqueur categories, and each category is highly evaluated in the order of silver, gold, and trophy. In addition, the “Supreme Champion Spirit” is given to the best brand of the year’s selection of spirits that won trophies in each category.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product nameHibiki 21years
Capacity700ml
Suggested retail price25,000 yen (tax included: 27,500 yen)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 60,000 yen to 65,000 yen. (*As of January 29, 2021)

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

The lowest bid price on Yahoo Auction is 40,000 yen, the highest is 70,000 yen, and the average is 58,835 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days from January 29, 2021)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Mail order sites also sell them for around 66,000 yen to 70,000 yen. (*As of January 29, 2021)

created by Rinker
¥99,000 (2022/09/25 04:05:15時点 楽天市場調べ-詳細)

6-5. Price offered at BAR SHINKAI

At “BAR SHINKAI” , which is operated by this website, we offer even a small amount, such as 1 glass, 45ml: 9,130 yen, 30ml: 6,160 yen, 15ml: 3,080 yen.

7. Summary

On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Hibiki 21 Year won the top prize of all 1408 spirits at the ISC, which decides the top of spirits, held in London, England. It was the first time for Hibiki to be awarded in Japan. It is the best blended whiskey available in Japan, both in name and reality. If you find it in a bar, you’re lucky. If you find it in a liquor store, it’s a big deal. Since it is a blended whiskey, you can of course drink it with a splash of water, but if you were asked how you would like to drink it, I would definitely recommend drinking it straight. You will surely have a good night.

■ 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).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue

In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery

created by Rinker
¥1,320
(2022/09/24 13:55:35時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(2). Japanese Whisky 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.

(3). 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 whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.

created by Rinker
¥1,051
(2022/09/25 11:13:35時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

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

Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky 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 Whisky, 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
(2022/09/25 13:28:40時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)

(5). 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 whisky can be found.

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