Japanese blended whiskies have been gaining in popularity outside of Japan, but one brand stands out at home, says Makiyo Masa, founder of dekantaā, an online site which sells Japanese whisky. “Hibiki is hands down the most popular line of blended Japanese whisky, and one of the overall best-selling brands on dekanta,” she says. “Suntory produces this iconic whisky in many variants. Hibiki 21 Years Old has garnered the most attention at international competitions.”
Balance is the key to its success, she says. “Hibiki 21 is a well-balanced, easy to drink whisky. It can be enjoyed equally across the whole gamut of whisky drinkers, from whisky novices to expert connoisseurs. This whisky is full of dried fruit, orange peel, strawberry jam and baked apple from start to finish. For someone looking to experience a high-quality blended Japanese whisky for the first time, Hibiki is the place to start.”
Whisky blending is very much an art form in Japan, says Masa, noting that the country’s reputation for attention to detail applies to the craft.
“Hibiki means ‘harmony’ in Japanese. This is a very apt word to describe the marriage of malts and the harmonious blend of aromas in this whisky. It shows how much the Japanese value the blending process,” she says.
A blend should take advantage of the benefits of the blending process, by making use of a diverse range of components, Masa says. “For example, another best-selling blended whisky is Yamazaki Limited Edition 2016. This is a blend of whiskies aged in American oak casks, bourbon barrels, European oak barrels, and sherry and port wine casks. This is a great example of the experimentation that blending allows.”