Editor’s Note: This whisk(e)y was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In October of 2022, Japan’s whisky pioneer, The House of Suntory, announced the release of Hibiki Blossom Harmony Blended Whisky, a limited-edition blended whiskey that’s finished in Sakura (Japanese cherry blossom) casks. The Hibiki brand was initially released in 1989 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of The House of Suntory. Since then they’ve continued to produce whisky using their time-honored, traditional Japanese whisky-making craftsmanship.
The House of Suntory, which is the founding House of Japanese whisky, was founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii when he opened the first official malt whisky distillery in Yamazaki. Since then The House of Suntory has created what’s considered to be some of the most highly-awarded blended whiskies on the international market as well as some of the most prestigious and honored whiskies in the world. Torii was a pioneering whisky maker whose goal was to create authentic western-style spirits that would appeal to Japanese tastes. Hibiki, meaning “resonance” or “echo” in Japanese, is said to encapsulate the philosophy of The House of Suntory, which is ‘To Create Harmony with People and Nature.’
Hibiki Blossom Harmony’s unique bottle design has 24 facets encircling the bottle, with each facet connecting to the next in a natural harmony. The Sakura is Japan’s unofficial national flower and the Sakura blossom season in early Spring is a meaningful event for the Japanese people and has delighted those eager to see the delicate flowers welcome the coming of warmer weather for over 1000 years.
“I have been mesmerized by the Sakura cask for the last five years now due to its symbolism, but also because of its distinctive, subtly floral and spicy aroma and flavor notes,” said fifth-generation chief blender Shinji Fukuyo in a prepared statement. “There have been many experiments with malt and grain whisky components, and we found that there was a special alchemy between the grain whiskies and the Sakura cask. It is this special relationship – harmony – that inspired me to create this blend.”
The House of Suntory Whisky’s Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries provide the diverse matured malt and grains that go into Hibiki whiskies. Hibiki Blossom Harmony Blended Whisky is aged in white oak barrels for more than 10 years before it goes through several more years of aging in sakura wood casks. The Sakura cask has a strong character, which can easily become overpowering, therefore it is said a close eye must be kept on the spirit during the aging process. Since cherry wood is more porous than oak wood, which is typically used in whisk(e)y-aging casks, it’s more prone to leaking, rapid oxidation, and, unfortunately, producing a larger angels’ share.
Bottled at 86 proof (43% ABV), Hibiki Blossom Harmony has been available for a limited time across the US and in several other countries. While The House of Suntory has suggested a SRP for a 750 ml bottle at $160, the secondary market is putting a much higher price on this 2022 limited-edition, so that’s something to be aware of depending upon where you can source a bottle.
Tasting Notes: Hibiki Blossom Harmony Blended Whisky
Vital Stats: 86 proof (43% ABV), 750 ml bottle MSRP $160. Product of Japan.
Appearance: Pale straw.
Nose: Bright notes of citrus give way to delicate, floral notes of cinnamon, sweet pear, and vanilla.
Palate: On the palate are soft, fruity and floral notes of honeydew, cherry, honeysuckle, and sweet golden raisins.