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Suntory Launches HIBIKI 12 Year Old Whisky in the US

Hibiki 12 japanese whisky

This month Japan’s Suntory Limited introduced its HIBIKI 12 Year Old Whisky to the United States market. HIBIKI Japanese Whisky was first seen by many Americans in the film Lost In Translation, in which actor Bill Murray touted the brand for Japanese TV.

From Suntory…

As a fitting way to encourage worldwide brand-building, Suntory has planned a special US launch expanding the global popularity of the 12-year-old class in the global blended whiskey market. This new offering brings together all of Suntory’s whiskyy making expertise and blending craftsmanship for whiskyy enthusiasts around the world.

About HIBIKI 12 Year Old
HIBIKI 12 Year Old boasts unique characteristics that no other 12-year-old whisky in the world has to offer. A superior blend of over 30 handcrafted, specially aged whiskies, HIBIKI is Suntory’s original blended whisky.

The Art of Blending
To create HIBIKI, Suntory selects malt whiskies with extraordinary qualities that spring naturally from the crystal clear waters and warm climates surrounding the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries. These carefully selected malts are then blended with a variety of Japanese grain whiskies that feature a touch of malt matured in Umeshu casks — special casks that have been used in the long-term aging of Japanese plum liqueur. Finally, the blend is topped off with a superlative vintage whiskey aged more than 30 years. The artistry of blending is combined with bamboo charcoal filtering, a unique process which gives HIBIKI its distinctive sweet and mellow flavor.

The HIBIKI Aging Process
The malt whiskies in HIBIKI are matured 12 years or more and are perfectly matched with mellow grain whiskies of the same age.  Once the whisky has been aged in white oak casks it is then allowed to mature in Umeshu casks. The use of these plum liqueur-seasoned casks creates a unique bouquet of fruity aromas and a velvety soft texture, two characteristics that are unique to Suntory whiskey. The addition of venerable malt aged more than 30 years strengthens the full bouquet, resulting in a clean, full bodied flavor.

Tasting Notes
On the nose, HIBIKI opens with a fruity bouquet of plums, raspberries and pineapples, followed by sweet honey and vanilla. On the palate, a soft and mellow sweetness makes HIBIKI a whisky best enjoyed straight. The finish is long, clean, sweet and spicy. As for color, HIBIKI shines with brilliant amber hue that’s tinged with a warm hint of gold.

Packaging Highlights
The exquisite HIBIKI bottle has 24 facets, representing both the hours in a day and the ancient Japanese calendar, in which a year was divided into twenty four parts. Suntory uses a unique Japanese paper for the HIBIKI label. The texture of the Echizen paper, or “Washi” in Japanese, is achieved through the careful application of traditional Japanese paper-making techniques. The Japanese symbol on the label means HIBIKI, a word that holds many positive meanings in Japanese, one of them being “Harmony.”  Suntory chose HIBIKI to express the exquisite balance of this whisky, born of the harmony of malt on malt.

It will be interesting to see how the brand fares in the competitive U.S. market, but any discerning drinker should be happy to see more quality products invade the states.

Stats:
43 percent Alcohol By Volume
$55-$60 for a 750ml bottle

Written by Kevin Gray

2 Comments

  1. conrad huss · August 22, 2011

    where is it sold in new york city? any particular restaurants

  2. Cocktail Enthusiast · August 22, 2011

    Not sure about particular spots in NYC, but Hibiki (and Yamazaki) and often found in Japanese restaurants and whiskey-heavy bars.

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