The Hibiki 21 Year Old is a blended whisky from Beam Suntory, the largest Japanese producer of distilled beverages and spirits. Hibiki is a brand of blended Japanese whiskies produced by the company.
This expression is one of the most critically and commercially successful Hibiki releases, winning a number of awards and medals over the years.
The Suntory whisky company started out as a modest store in Osaka, Japan in 1899 under the ownership of Shinjiro Torii, who also eventually lent his name to the company. Torii began selling wines and other goods from his store, and business began booming.
It wasn’t until the 1920s that Torii laid the ground for what would go on to become Suntory. By building the Yamazaki Distillery, the first ever malt whisky distillery in Japan in 1923 with the help of Masataka Taketsuru, the two men birthed the Japanese whisky industry that exists today.
Masataka went on to create the Nikka whisky brand after he parted ways with the Kotobukiya company, the name adopted by Torii before it became Suntory. The Suntory Shirofuda, Japan’s first single malt whisky was launched in 1924, and the Kakubin was launched later. Shirofuda did not meet the expectations of the Japanese consumers, although Kakubin went on to become successful.
The Kotobukiya name was dropped and replaced by Suntory in 1963 as post-war Japan had begun finding its footing again. The Chita Distillery was built to distil grain whiskies for Suntory in 1972, followed by the Hakushu Distillery in 1973 by Keizo Saji, the second Master Blender in company history.
The first Hibiki expression was released by Suntory in 1989 in the form of the Hibiki 17 Year Old. Later, the Hibiki 21 Year Old was released too. These were followed by two new expressions such as the 30 Year Old, released first in 1997 and 12 Year Old, released first in 2009.
Like all blended whiskies, the Hibiki 21 Year Old is a blend of malt and grain whiskies distilled completely in Japan. Suntory’s single malts are distilled at their Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries, whereas the Chita distillery provides the grain whisky.
The proportions of the source whiskies added to the Hibiki blend are unclear and not divulged by the company.
The Hibiki 21 Year Old carries an alcohol strength of 40% ABV, the standard permissible limit for Japanese whisky.
Gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2015
Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2015
Gold medal at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in 2011
World’s Best Blended Whisky award at the World Whiskies Awards in 2013
28th January 2017
Very fruity, with aromas of black currant, sweet banana and vanilla
Sweet, smooth and supple with flavours of dried fruit, oak and caramel
Long, pleasant finish