Japanese whiskey It’s just about the most precious liquid on the planet these days. The Hibiki 30 is among the rarest of the outstanding entries in that claimed subgroup. So when the final batch hit shore last month, it was seen as a steal if you find it on the shelf at the $5,000 retail price. That’s right, for blended whiskey! How did we get here?
Well, the story began a century ago, when Shinjiro Torii founded House of Centauri With a dream to create the best expression of Japanese whiskey. To this end, a Yamazaki distillery opened outside Osaka in 1923. After his death, the Hakashu Distillery appeared along the slopes of Mount Kaikuma 50 years later. Today these shrines are famous for their sensational solo barley. But for Tori, the highest form of liquid art was born from blending distinct whiskeys into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Enter Hibiki. It means “ringing” in Japanese. And while Tori wasn’t alive to see this brand take shape, it certainly does fulfill his initial vision. The 30-year-old show is the elder statesman of the line, a captivating copper-tone painted on a velvet canvas with broad strokes of fig jam and smoked rice. It erases the stubborn notion that blended whiskey means something light or baseless.
It will also wipe out your savings account if you have to find it in the secondary market, where it can often fetch more than $10,000 a bottle. For a more intuitive taste of Hibiki elegance, we suggest the new Blossom Harmony. Now on shelves with a suggested price of $160, the Limited Edition is a non-ageing blend, which features whiskey finished in barrels made of Japanese cherrywood. Both versions are packed at 43% ABV and are by-products of the fifth generation of the House of Suntory master blender Shinji Fukuyo. (Just note that prices will likely go up for this bottle, too.)
“I have fascinated the sakura keg for the past five years now because of its symbolism, but also because of its distinctive aroma, floral and spicy flavour,” Fukuyo says of the new finishing kegs. “There have been many experiments with the ingredients of malt and grain whiskey and we have found that there is a special chemistry between the grain whiskey and the sakura casks. It is this special harmony that inspired me to create this blend.”
Tori may have been long gone. But his dream lives on in every drama.
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