[Review] HIBIKI 17 Years Old

Whisky Review
Whisky Review

Keizo Saji, the second son of Shinjiro Torii, took over as the second master blender with the motto “People and nature resonate with each other” .


1. Manufacturer

Suntory Spirits Co.

Established 1899
Head office location 2-3-3 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-8631, Japan
Owned distillery ●Japan
Yamazaki Distillery, Hakushu Distillery, Chita Distillery
Ardmore distillery, Glengilly distillery, Auchentoshan distillery, Bowmore distillery, Laphroig distillery
Cooley distillery, Kilbeggan distillery
●United States
Jim Beam distillery, Maker’s Mark distillery
Hiram Walker Distillery, Alberta Distillery

2. 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 2-1, Yamazaki 5-chome, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka 618-0001, Japan 1923
Hakushu distillery 2913-1 Toribaru, Hakushu-cho, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi 408-0316 1973
Chita distillery 16 Kitahamacho, Chita city, Aichi prefecture, 478-0046 Japan 1973

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

For more information on the Yamazaki Distillery, you can also read this article.

Yamazaki Distillery | Japanese...
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

In order to produce a different type of malt whisky from the Yamazaki distillery, the Hakushu distillery searched for the best water for making whisky 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 whisky distillery, Hakushu Distillery, began operations.

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

白州蒸溜所 | ジャパニーズウイスキーディクショナリー
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

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

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

Chita Distillery | Japanese Wh...
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

3. Product name and photo

HIBIKI 17 Years Old

4. Characteristics

A deep and luxurious harmony of various raw materials in perfect harmony without a single thread.
A blend of more than 30 different malts and several grains, mainly from 17-year-old oak barrels.

Estery (sweet and floral) and rich aged aroma. A noble woodiness (mature woody aroma) from Yamazaki’s long aging malt. Mellow, thick and full-bodied. Rich lingering after-taste.

4-1. Tasting Notes

Fragrance Roses, jasmine, peaches, melon, butter, vanilla, Kyara incense.
Taste Custard cream, milk caramel, lightly sweet, light and smooth.
Aftertaste Sweet and gorgeous fruit aroma, pleasant aftertaste

(Reference: Hibiki – The Best of Suntory Blended whisky – Suntory)

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content 43%
alcohol category blended whisky
Barrel type Mainly Quercus serrata barrels
Contents 700ml
Number of bottles sold Sales suspended in September 2018
Suggested retail price 13,200 yen (tax included)
Release date 1989

5. Award history


2005 Gold Medal, SWSC (San Francisco World Spirits Competition)
2007 IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition) Gold Medal “Best in Class”

2009 ISC (International Spirits Challenge)Gold Medal

2012 ISC (International Spirits Challenge)Gold Medal

2013 ISC (International Spirits Challenge)Gold Medal

2016 ISC (International Spirits Challenge)Gold Medal

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price

Product name Hibiki 17 Years Old
Volume 700ml
Suggested retail price 12,000 yen (tax included: 13,200 yen)

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

The resale price on Mercari is around 48,000 yen to 60,000 yen. (*As of January 30, 2021)  

6-3. Yahoo Auction Sold Price

The lowestbid price on Yahoo Auctionis 31,828 yen, the highest is 56,000 yen, and the average is 42,990 yen (*Statistics for the past 120 days since January 30, 2021) 

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

Mail order sites also sell them for around 55,000 yen to 60,000 yen. (*as of January 30, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR SHINKAI


Information about “BAR Shinkai”
Japanese Whisky Dictionary operates three BAR Shingai stores in Minato Ward, Tokyo. In addition to the Japanese whiskeys...

7. Summary

Sometimes blenders are compared to conductors. The blender is sometimes compared to a conductor, because he carefully selects and harmonizes the richly unique raw materials to create a single harmony.
Mr. Keizo Saji, who is well versed in sports and culture, told Koichi Inatomi, Chief Blender, that “the age of aging is coming, and premium whiskys with long aging periods will be loved. In response, Mr. Inatomi, who has long been familiar with the viola string instrument, carefully selected the raw whisky produced and nurtured at both the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries with an image of “the fourth movement of Johannes Brahms’ First Symphony.
With 30 different types of malts and several types of grains, it is a malt-heavy brew that reaffirms that Japanese blenders are world class.

It is easy for beginners to drink, and is so standard that people say, “If you want to drink Hibiki, start with 17 years. If you ever see it, please try it.
You may also enjoy drinking it while listening to “Brahms Symphony No.1, 4th Movement” .
Incidentally, Mr. Keizo Saji, the creator of the blended masterpiece, devoted himself to cultural projects after becoming the second president of Suntory, and passed away at the age of 80. Coincidentally, that day was November 3rd, Culture Day.

Please check out the other articles about Hibiki.

【May 25, 2021 Limited Quantity R...
Suntory Spirits Co., Ltd. will release a limited quantity of a special "HIBIKI" that can only be tasted as a g
[Review] Hibiki 21 Years
Japanese Whisky Hibiki21.The world's highest peak blended whisky symphony symphony sound 21 years. It is now very diffic...

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 whisky 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

(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 whisky 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.

(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 whisky? 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.

(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 whisky 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.

新海 博之

Born July 17, 1981 in Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido, Japan
After graduating from university, joined NTT Data Customer Service Corporation as a new graduate.
2010: Opened "Azabujuban BAR Shinkai" → 2016: Developed specialty "Yakuzen Curry" → 2018: Opened "Toranomon BAR Shinkai" and in 2019 "Shibadaimon BAR Shinkai" → 2020: Started web media "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".
We will daily communicate the appeal of Japanese whiskey as something we, as bartenders, can do.

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