Suntory’s Hibiki, along with the Yamazaki, continues to remain by far the most sought after of all Japanese whiskies. This should come as no surprise to anybody who has tried the Hibiki, as the blend continues to collect more and more international awards. As far as we know, it has won at least 18 awards in the last ten years, including ten gold awards at some of the world’s most prestigious competitions. The Hibiki is, in one word, incredible.

The Hibiki is a blended whisky, using the best malts from both the Yamazaki distillery and the Hakushu distillery, as well as grain from the Chita distillery. It was first introduced to markets in 1989, on the company’s 90th anniversary. The rest, as they say, is history.

But what can you expect from each Hibiki? We at dekantā found a shortage of detailed information online for the Hibiki, so allow us to present a guide to Hibiki purchasing, which should provide you with a rough idea of the many different shades of this wonderful blend.

Let’s take a brief look:

Hibiki 12 Year Old

This is quite wonderful for those who prefer subtlety in their whisky; therefore, if you like an aggressive kick from your drink, we advise you to look elsewhere. Truly one of the better whiskies on the planet. Some people even prefer this over the 17 Year Old! The Hibiki 12 Year Old has won gold at both the International Spirits Challenge and the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2010.

Nose: Fruity, with oranges, marmalade, apples, cinnamon and honey.

Palate: Smooth – very smooth and very delicious.

Finish: A lot of flavor, but nothing really dominates. Medium fast, Slips down in a very easy manner that you hardly notice the alcohol taste.

Hibiki 17 Year Old

It gets even better with the 17 Year Old! Fabulous is the word we most often see associated with it, and for good reason. It has a wonderful spice on the nose, is clean and fresh in taste, with a slight hint of wood and long finish. This is very Japanese in our view and has won international gold awards in 2005, 2007 and 2009!

Nose: Full, with notes of honey, resin, oak, and more.

Palate: Sweet, rich, and somewhat peaty.

Finish: Longer than the 12 Year Old.

With both sweetness and peat, this is one of those whiskies that is designed to appeal to everyone and magically manages to do so!

Hibiki 21 Year Old

This is the second best Hibiki, and thus, we believe that this is the second best blended whisky in the world. The colour alone is enough to wet our appetite! We’ve lost count of all of the awards it has won, and it was even awarded 96/100 points in Jim Murray’s 2014 Whisky Bible, who described the Hibiki 21 Year Old as being ‘Unbelievably balanced, and dangerously drinkable’. We very much agree with this statement and could drink it like water. But, of course, we don’t! And on top of all that, there is also a Limited edition Mt. Fuji version of it!

Nose: Sweet caramel, nuts, lemon, and dark toffee.

Palate: More oaky than the 17 Year Old. Again, sweet caramel notes.

Finish: Long, with a hint of smoke.

Hibiki 30 Year Old

Of all the Hibiki bottles, the 30 Year Old is the cream of the crop. It was awarded at the International Spirits Challenge in 2004, 2006, and 2008, as well as being awarded the coveted title, ‘World’s Best Blended Whisky’ at the World Whiskies Award in 2007 and 2008! This is for those who want to try the very best there is.

Nose: Sweet caramel or chestnut.

Palate: Brown sugar and some jam perhaps.

Finish: Long and rich!

Henry Baldvin