In the backdrop of Japan’s whisky shortage crisis in 2015, renowned brands such as Nikka and Suntory found themselves grappling with depleted stockpiles of aged whisky. In response, they made the strategic decision to either discontinue age statements for their flagship expressions or significantly curtail production, opting instead for controlled allocations to their distributors. This scarcity, coupled with a fervent fear of missing out and an element of greed, precipitated an unprecedented surge in prices for the remaining inventory, a trend that has persisted unabated till present day. Amidst this tumultuous landscape, however, That Boutique-y Whisky Company defied the odds by unearthing a cache of 21-year-old Japanese blended whisky, releasing six batches over a few years.Read more
In 1987, Suntory’s Master Blender Keizo Saji decided to develop a blended whisky to reflect the sophistication of Suntory’s techniques. Suntory says that their Chief Blender, Koichi Inatomi, sampled and tasted aged malt whiskies from one million casks at Suntory. Maybe not just to make Hibiki, as 1 million casks sampled would mean 91 samples a day for 30 years… Anyway, in the end, Saji and Inatomi found the flavour they wanted by blending thirty distinctive malt and grain whiskies from Suntory distilleries, Yamazaki and Hakushu for the malt, and Chita for the grain. The first Hibiki, Hibiki 17-year-old was released in 1989 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Suntory whisky. The 21-year-old would follow in 1994. Whatever the expression from the range, they are always presented in the brand’s trademark 24-faceted bottle representing the Japanese seasons. So let’s try those two initial expressions from the range, Suntory Hibiki 17 and 21-year-old.Read more
We’re back to Japan for another Chichibu tonight, we’re racking up hundreds of miles of travel from one country to another with this Advent Calendar! Not sure our CO2 emissions are very high, though, since all this travel has been purely virtual and in my Glencairn glasses! Anyway. Though Chichibu is a very young distillery, its owner Ichiro Akuto comes from a very long tradition of alcohol making, since the family produced sake then shochu since 1625 in Chichibu. The family founded Hanyu distillery in the 1980s, bringing water from Chichibu by truck, before the whisky market collapsed and Hanyu closed down in 2000. Then as I said in my Chichibu The Peated review, Ichiro Akuto founded Chichibu in 2007, and tonight we’re trying a Chichibu On The Way bottled in 2019.Read more
Suntory’s first big announcement of 2021, back in January, was of two limited-edition variants on their two biggest brands: Yamazaki Limited Edition 2021 and Hibiki Blossom Harmony 2021. They were both released on May 25 and sold out almost immediately everywhere. There are allegedly 30,000 of each of these kicking around. They both had RRPs of ¥8800 (after tax, around €67 or $80), but now grace auction sites for 10x that.
Our focus here is the Hibiki Blossom Harmony.
Coldorak’s Note: today we welcome a guest author, Mac aka Kanpai Planet, who does Youtube reviews of Japanese whiskies and other Japanese drinks on his Youtube channel. Yōkoso!Read more