Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by Lydia Martin
Many consider Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky a standard for luxury Japanese whisky, with its airy cadences and well-balanced flavor notes.
Let’s take a look at this brand — from its history, flavor profile, and price tag — and see if it’s worth trying.
Table of Contents
What’s Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky?
As the name suggests, Hibiki Harmony is a Japanese whisky, and like most others under this whiskey type, it is delicate and luminous yet has a wonderful depth.
Hibiki is made from a unique blend of malt and grain whiskeys and uses different cask types for aging.
The harmoniously blended whisky is something no other Japanese whisky brand has been able to achieve yet, and the brand attributes the quality of its dram to years of experience.
It primarily gets its whiskies from three Japanese distilleries: Yamazaki, Hakshu, and Chita. It was lovingly crafted by Master Blenders Shingo Torii and Shinji Fukuyo, and calls it “Suntory’s masterpiece.”
Like most other Japanese whiskies, it’s a bit on the expensive side — each bottle retails for around $100. But is there a Japanese whisky under $100?
Those who prefer the strong and robust taste of Scotch will also find this a bit demure and lackluster. 
History & Origin
Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky is a beautiful combination of the art of blending and expert craftsmanship. It is Japan’s most-awarded blended whisky of all time.
The bottle was first released to the public in 1989 to celebrate Suntory’s 90th year in the industry.
In Japanese, the word Hibiki translates to “resonance,” and according to Master Blender Fukuyo, the Hibiki blended whisky is “a beautiful expression of that resonance.”
However, it’s not all art and cadence — there was a practical reason behind the decision, too. The blend was created initially because their inventory was low on Japanese whiskies with specific age statements.
They were able to extend supply by blending old and young whiskies to keep themselves in the market.
A Suntory brand ambassador has revealed that there may be over 30 different whiskies in each batch of Hibiki whisky, so you can just imagine the flavor nuances each dram has.
The company sources different whisky blends from three major locations: malt whiskies from the Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries and grain whiskies from Chita.
All three distilleries produce distinctive spirits, using vastly different water sources, yeasts, and stills. The individual barrels used for aging are also subject to varying warehouse environments.
The company also sparingly incorporates a smoky, Islay-style whisky, which they refer to as the “hidden player,” to finish the full orchestra.
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The spirits used for Hibiki whisky are sourced from five different types of casks, three of which are American white oak, Japanese oak (Mizunara), and ex-sherry casks.
They sometimes also use a cask that previously held a Japanese plum liqueur called Umeshu.
Hibiki whisky has no age statement on the bottle. They combine younger whiskies with older barrels aged 12 to 15 years.
Hibiki whisky has a complex, aromatic blend made up of around 30 (or more!) different Japanese whiskies.
Suntory has not officially disclosed which specific mash bills they used for the blend — just that they are made from a combination of grain and malt whiskies. It is bottled at 86 proof (or 43 percent ABV).
Ownership & Distillery
Hibiki Whisky is one of Beam Suntory’s premium labels. Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Beverage and Food Ltd., a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings.
The Suntory Group was founded by Shinjiro Torii, great-grandfather of current Master Blender Shingo Torii, who first opened his store in the late 1800s to sell imported wines.
His business eventually expanded, and in 1923, he opened the first malt whisky distillery in the country and called it Yamazaki Distillery. The first single-malt whisky produced in the country came from his distillery.
In World War II, his business went through shortages of raw materials, so he was forced to stop the development of new products.
He relaunched Torys Whisky in 1946, which sold substantially well in the post-war. He eventually rebranded his business to Suntory, combining his anglicized name Torii (Tory) with the English word “sun.”
The Hibiki Japanese Harmony bottles are more than just eye-catching and beautiful — they also hold an intrinsic meaning.
The 24 facets of the crystal bottle represent the 24 hours in a day and the 24 seasons of the traditional Japanese calendar, which they refer to as “sekki.”
It is said that the brand wants to evoke the feeling of time each time you take a sip of the drink. 
The Japanese Harmony has a medium-bodied mouthfeel with subtle and delicate tasting notes.
It starts with honey, almond, coconut, rose, and lychee, which morphs into deeper wood, white chocolate, cigar, and leather the longer it sits on your tongue. But how do you drink Japanese whisky like an expert?
The spirit has a molten gold color with just a touch of copper.
If there were one word to describe the aromas of Hibiki Japanese Harmony, it would be floral.
This liquor’s bouquet is wondrously aromatic, with rosemary, sage, chrysanthemum, and sandalwood. There is also light raw coconut, apricot, and a touch of salinity.
This one has a subtle, tender, long finish. It is balanced out with some spice at the end, with darker flavors like chocolate, vegetal oak, and some toasted nuts.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky Components
The Hibiki Japanese Harmony is made from a blend of up to 30 different Japanese whiskies, which can be categorized into the following:
Malt whisky: The first malt whisky is aged inside traditional American white oak containers. The Master Blenders consider this first type as the base into which the blended whisky character is molded.
The malt whisky is tannic and spicy on its own, with some oak and honey on the nose.
Chita grain whisky: Like in Japanese ramen, the Chita grain whisky acts like the “dashi,” or broth, that binds everything together. The Chita grain whisky is noticeably young and grain-like on the tongue. 
Sherry cask malt whisky: The malt whisky aged in ex-sherry casks acts as the flavoring agent — it is definitely more robust and densely packed with cigar, plum, and wood flavors.
The company refers to this juice as the “dressing” or “highlight” of the overall blend.
Mizunara cask malt whisky: The malt whiskies aged in Japanese oak casks are some of the oldest in the blend and have age statements anywhere from 12 to 15 years.
The casks give the final whisky Japanese flavor and character. This spirit is slightly chewy and has a full-bodied mouthfeel, with flavor notes of toasted coconut, dried herbs, and hints of baking spice.
Smoky malt whisky: The smoky malt whisky, which the Master Blenders refer to as the “hidden player,” is the final dressing component incorporated into the final blend.
This Islay-style smoky malt whisky adds more complexity and depth with its bold peat flavor profile.
Drinking Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky is a special occasion in and of itself. It’s best to sip this one slowly and savor every pour rather than gulp everything down quickly.
Let the liquid dance around your tongue and take note of its gentle apricots, rose, and lychee flavor notes before swallowing the drink and following up with another one.
According to Suntory, the best way to drink Hibiki Harmony is with a couple of large ice cubes. Like other whiskeys, adding a bit of ice will allow its flavors and aromas to shine through. 
Mizuwari is the traditional Japanese way of drinking whisky. Mizuwari literally means “mixed with water.” These cocktails are served during a meal, and it’s a great way to cut back the whisky’s alcoholic strength while retaining its sweet flavor.
To create the perfect Mizuwari cocktails, mix one part of whiskey with two parts of mineral water in a tall glass, and top everything off with ice.
Where Can You Buy Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky?
You can get Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky in the United States from online booze stores like Drizly, Reserve Bar, and Wine-Searcher.
You may also be able to get them in select retail shops, but the bottles are an extremely rare sighting.
Common Pricing Of Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky
|Type||Size||Alcohol By Volume||Average Price|
|Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky||750ml||43%||Around $100|
Compared to Other Japanese Whiskies
Whereas Hibiki whisky may be more aromatic, Yamazaki Japanese Whisky is more fruity and zesty from candied orange peel notes.
It is still soft and smooth as Japanese whiskies should go and has a medium-length finish that continues the citrusy trend.
The Yamazaki 12-Year-Old costs around $200, which is double the Hibiki whisky price.
Nikka Coffey Grain
Nikka Coffey Grain uses the antique Coffey still in distilling their Japanese whisky.
Compared to more modern stills, the Coffey still is difficult to operate, but it allows for major flavor retention and imparts a distinctive creaminess to the final spirit.
The Nikka Coffey Grain is bourbon-like, with plenty of sweet vanilla, thick syrup, and corn notes — probably because it was aged in re-charred American oak casks.
You can get a bottle for around $80, just slightly cheaper than Hibiki whisky.
Chita Whisky is another Suntory whisky brand, so you could say that they have this in common.
Chita is a mild and smooth single-grain whisky with sandalwood, deep honey, creme brulee, and fruity notes. Like other Suntory bottles, this one has unparalleled sophistication. *blows chef’s kiss*
Chita Whisky is slightly more expensive than Hibiki whisky at around $150.
Popular Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky Cocktails
Hibiki Harmony Highball
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
- 2 oz Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky
- Soda water
Put a large ice cube into the bottom of a highball glass and stir gently with a bar spoon until the sides of the glass start to frost and chill. Add a second ice cube, and pour the splash of Hibiki Harmony into the glass.
Mix everything exactly 13 times clockwise. Put another ice cube into the glass, and then top everything off with soda water. Mix everything thrice.
Suntory Hibiki Harmony Old Fashioned
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 2 oz Hibiki Japanese Harmony
- 2 tsp ocean simple syrup (1:1 syrup infused with nori and sea salt)
- 3 dashes Strongwater Vice bitters
- Grapefruit peel
- Nori sheet
Pour Hibiki Harmony, syrup, and splash of bitters into an old fashioned glass filled with ice and mix. Spritz the natural oils of a grapefruit peel over the mixture, and drop that in. Garnish with the nori sheet.
Is Hibiki Harmony Made in Japan?
Yes, Hibiki Harmony is made in Japan. The grain and malt whiskies used for the Hibiki whisky are distilled in three select distilleries in Osaka, Yamanashi, and Aichi.
Is Hibiki Harmony discontinued?
No, Hibiki Harmony isn’t discontinued. However, the Hibiki 17-Year-Old and Hibiki 12-Year-Old have been discontinued temporarily due to shortage.
According to a Suntory spokesperson, they are deeply sorry for the temporary discontinuation but have made strong investments to increase production for continued long-term growth.
Is Hibiki Harmony cheaper in Japan?
Yes, you can get Hibiki Harmony cheaper in Japan. The bottles are cheaper because they don’t have to add importation costs, customs fees, taxes, and the like.
Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky is one of the most sophisticated Japanese whisky bottles by Suntory Holdings.
It is fruity, floral, and aromatic, with gentle and delicate notes in most Japanese whiskies. This label is regarded as one of the most prestigious and honored liquors worldwide and is Japan’s most highly-awarded blended whisky to date.
It’s safe to say that you should definitely try it out, but it may be difficult to grab hold of a bottle since the demand for it has shot up over the years.
Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.