Hibiki 30 Takes Ultra-Premium Japanese Whisky to the Next Level

Japanese whisky is just about the most precious liquid on the planet these days. And Hibiki 30 is among the rarest premium entries in that vaunted subset. So when the latest batch trickled ashore last month, it was seen as a steal if you found it on shelf at its retail price of $5,000. That's right, for a blended whisky! How did we get here?

Well, the story starts a century ago, when Shinjiro Torii founded the House of Suntory with a dream of creating the ultimate expression of Japanese whisky. To that end, he opened the Yamazaki distillery outside of Osaka in 1923. Posthumously, the Hakashu distillery came online along the slopes of Mount Kaikoma 50 years later. Today these shrines are renowned for their sensational single malts. But for Torii, the highest form of liquid artistry was born of blending the distinctive whiskies into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Enter Hibiki. It means “resonance” in Japanese. And though Torii was not alive to see this brand take shape, it's most assuredly the realization of his initial vision. The 30-Year-Old offering is the elder statesman of the line, a copper-hued captivator that paints upon a velvety canvas with broad brushstrokes of fig jam and smoked cedar. It obliterates the stubborn notion that blended whisky means something light or unsubstantial.

Bottle of Hibiki Harmony
Courtesy Image

It’ll also obliterate your savings account if you’re forced to find it on the secondary market, where it can often fetch over $10,000 a bottle. For a far more accessible taste of Hibiki’s elegance, we suggest the new Blossom Harmony. Now on shelves at a suggested price of $160, the limited edition is a non-age-statement blend, which contains whiskies finished in barrels built of Japanese cherrywood. Both releases are bottled at 43% ABV and are the byproducts of fifth-generation House of Suntory chief blender Shinji Fukuyo. (Just note prices will likely soar for this bottle, too.)

“I have been mesmerized by the Sakura cask for the last five years now due to its symbolism, but also because of its distinctive, subtly floral and spicy aroma and flavor notes,” says Fukuyo of the novel finishing barrels. “There have been many experiments with malt and grain whisky components and we found that there was a special alchemy between the grain whiskies and the Sakura cask. It is this special harmony that inspired me to create this blend.”

Torii may be long gone. But his dream lives on in every dram.