Last week, in a sun-soaked room perched atop NYC’s New Museum, Suntory Whisky’s Chief Blender, Shinji Fukuyo, unveiled the latest product in their Hibiki range: Japanese Harmony. Last year the brand made waves when its Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 was pronounced the world’s best whisky—a first for Japan—by expert Jim Murray. This wasn’t the brand’s first accolade, and in fact their Hakushu and Habiki portfolios have been receiving awards for years. This was a tipping point, however—and now a brand founded in 1923 has achieved global recognition. Hibiki’s Japanese Harmony is the next step.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony happens to be one of the more complex expressions across the entire Suntory Whisky portfolio. This blend utilizes at least 10 malt and grain whiskies drawn from the original Hibiki blend, the 17 Years spirit, 21 Years spirit and more. These liquids were pulled from all three of Suntory’s distilleries: Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita. And the blend incorporates individual components from across all five different types of cask aging. American White Oak may play the base-note, but Japanese Mizunara and sherry casks round out the profile. This is an 86 proof spirit, both sweet and smokey, that somehow hits that rare spot between delicate and complex.
Ultimately, this is a lush yet sweet whisky. It’s woodsy to the nose, with hints of candied rose. The honeyed essence unifies the flavors. It’s complex enough that tasting notes can really go where your imagination goes—unless of course you are distinctly familiar with the taste of Mizunara, a rare Japanese oak. Suntory has become a powerhouse in the whisky world, and this is due in part to the strength of their Hibiki products. Japanese Harmony is a welcome addition to mix.
Suntory recommends enjoying the Hibiki Japanes Harmony over a whisky ice ball, but it’s definitely worth trying neat and further holds up in cocktails.
Suntory’s Hibiki Japanese Harmony will be on shelves in the next coming weeks for $65.
Images by Joe Leonard