Lifestyle / Alcohol

Hibiki Whisky Discontinued As Supplies Run Dry

From September 2018, insufficient maturation time will mean that the Hibiki 17 will soon be removed from the core range as supplies diminish. The last core product to discontinue was the Hibiki 12.

May 14, 2018 | By Jonathan Ho

First introduced by Suntory in 1989, Hibiki whisky originally encompassed 17  and 21 year expressions, it eventually produced a A 30-year expression introduced in 1997, but it eventually developed a wider appeal beyond its niche of knowledgeable whisky connoisseurs after a 12-year expression was introduced in 2009. Hibiki, meaning “resonance” in Japanese, resonated with audiences beyond the domestic market as the premium blended 12 year expression began accruing international recognition as Hibiki whisky went on to win several awards. Naturally, with increased demand and reducing supply, (since age statement whiskies take time to mature), Hibiki whisky is going to be discontinued as supplies run dry.

Hibiki Whisky Discontinued As Supplies Run Dry

To make the distinguished Hibiki expression,  at least 10 malt and grain whiskies were used from three: Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries , each whisky is aged in five different cask types, with some elements aged up to approximately 20 years or longer; some even have more than 30 whiskies used in a blend with some aged more than 30 years and some specially aged in old umeshu casks. Given the complexity of the blend and the time taken for maturation, it was matter of time before the famed “Lost In Translation” Japanese whisky ran out.

Hibiki was prominently featured in the 2003 Bill Murray Oscar winning American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola; leading to global awareness of the Japanese label and spurring an initial surge in demand before the 2009 introduction of the 12 year old Hibiki Whisky sealed the eventual run on supplies leading to two global shortages for more mature statements, mainly the more affordable 17 comparative to the more exclusive 21 years; Having won “World’s Best Blended Whisky” five times, the Hibiki 21 Year-Old is by far the most celebrated expression in the Suntory portfolio.

For a while, flights on Japan Air were the only means of getting your hands on a bottle of  Hibiki 17 without the crazy premium – in Tokyo, a Hibiki 17 trades for double of the retail price – US$200 to US$110.

From September, the Hibiki 17 will be removed from the core range. The core range also previously included the Hibiki 12 Year-Old, which was discontinued in 2015. In it’s place, the no-age expression – Hibiki Harmony was introduced. But all is not lost, since 2013, Suntory has invested US$182 million into increased production and maturation facilities.

Editor’s Tip: You can still buy miniature bottles of Hibiki 17 till stocks run out


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