Hibiki Japanese Harmony launches in Australia
At Time for Whisky we're big fans of Japan, the Japanese whisky/bar scene and Japanese whisky in general, and right up there amongst our favourite whiskies are those by Suntory - not only their excellent single malts, but also their famous blend Hibiki.
Last year Suntory launched the NAS Yamazaki and Hakushu "Distiller's Reserve" (along with the official launch of the rest of the range, Hibiki 12 and 17 included), and this year it's Hibiki's turn for a NAS (No Age Statement) release, with the "Japanese Harmony" just having been launched in Australia.
With Hendy having attended the Sydney launch last night, and myself having attended a tasting in Tokyo with Suntory's Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo last month, we'll have our own thoughts up on the Japanese Harmony soon. Until then, here's the press release...
23 June 2015 – Japanese whisky lovers will be delighted with the launch of Hibiki Japanese Harmony whisky, the latest masterpiece from the award-winning House of Suntory, available in the Australian market from June 2015.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a meticulous and refined blend that offers a symphony of more than 12 malt and grain whiskies from Suntory’s Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries, developed by third-generation Master Blender Shingo Torii and fourth-generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo.
The entrepreneurial spirit and discerning palate of Shinjiro Torii, founder of Suntory and Japanese Whisky, gave rise to the creation of Hibiki in 1989 to commemorate the 90 year anniversary of Suntory. Distilled with the purest waters and the most refined techniques, it is no surprise that the oriental nuances and complex, distinct character of Suntory’s whisky is the drink of choice for whisky connoisseurs the world over.
Hibiki Japanese Harmony, thoughtfully presented in the classic 24-faceted glass bottle symbolizing the 24 seasons of the old Japanese lunar calendar, pays tribute to the original Hibiki blend.
Fukuyo meticulously used the exact malt and grain whiskies that went into the first Hibiki blend; American White Oak malt whiskies form a solid base, which are accentuated by the rare Mizunara (Japanese oak) and Sherry malt whiskies.
These exceptional malt whiskies are the backbone of the award-winning Hibiki range – Hibiki 17yrs, 21yrs, 30yrs and now, Hibiki Japanese Harmony. Grain whiskies from Suntory’s Chita distillery act as the “dashi” or broth, to complete the personality of the malt whiskies and enhance the overall harmony of flavour of Hibiki.
The newest member of the House of Suntory is extremely versatile, recommended to be enjoyed neat, blended with water, mixed as a cocktail, or served with a hand-carved ice ball for the ultimate Japanese whisky experience, and enhances any dining experience.
Whilst I love the Hibiki 17, anyone with a passing interest in whisky would have to recognise the constrained supply of aged malts (impacting whisky producing nations all over the world), and the related increasing prices (or in the case of Nikka - entire deletion of age statement malts!), so it's good to see Suntory responding by ensuring we can continue to enjoy Hibiki well into the future. It's also pleasing to see they've kept the stunning Hibiki bottle design for "Japanese Harmony"!
Hibiki "Japanese Harmony" retails in Australia for $95AUD.
The House of Suntory Exclusive Takeover Returns
As if the launch of a new Hibiki wasn't enough, Suntory are bringing back their "House of Suntory" bar takeovers in 2015, giving whisky fans in both Sydney and Melbourne a chance to enjoy the range in
22 June 2015 – Suntory, the pioneer of Japanese whisky, once again invites Australia into The House of Suntory Exclusive Takeover this winter. Following huge success in 2014, the sophisticated pop up will also celebrate the introduction of The House of Suntory’s newest member, Hibiki Japanese Harmony.
The award winning distiller welcomes consumers into The House of Suntory to discover the art of Japanese whisky and experience an evening of utmost omotenashi; the Japanese spirit of hospitality. A specially designed three and six course paired menu created exclusively for the pop up will explore the marriage between Japanese whisky and cuisine, including bespoke Suntory Whisky cocktails and izakaya style bar food.
Launched last year to celebrate an expanded portfolio of luxury whiskies, the one-night-only event sold out at venues across Australia. To welcome Hibiki Japanese Harmony, The House of Suntory will this year run on each Wednesday of July and August, first at Melbourne’s award-winning Japanese bar and dining room, Hihou, in July before arriving in Sydney at the new Japanese small bar, Tokyo Bird, in August.
“We have expanded The House of Suntory Takeover series to allow even more Australians to be acquainted with Suntory Whisky. In line with true Japanese hospitality, we want everyone to enjoy the subtle complexity of Suntory Whisky and experience the range in the style its founder, Shinjiro Torii intended it to be consumed; alongside beautiful Japanese cuisine,” said Narelle McDonald, Beam Suntory Australia Group Marketing Manager.
“We are excited to welcome a new whisky masterpiece to this year’s events, Hibiki Japanese Harmony. It’s a harmonious blend reflecting the craftsmanship and delicate nature of the Japanese. With its honey like sweetness, it is perfectly paired with complex flavours and desserts. The full Suntory Whisky portfolio will also be available The House of Suntory, including the gently smoky Hakushu and our flagship single malt, Yamazaki. Consumers who attended last year will also welcome the return of the highball - whisky mixed with soda, ice and a mint or lemon garnish - which has been incredibly popular.” said McDonald.
The House of Suntory Exclusive Takeover returns as consumers interest in Japanese whisky continues to rise. An increasing desire for luxury experiences and experiential drink offerings has amplified the popularity of Japanese whisky with Australian consumers. Last year also marked the first time a Japanese whisky was awarded the Whisky Bible’s whisky of the year, with Suntory Whisky’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 being awarded top honour.
The House of Suntory will launch at Hihou on Wednesday 1 July and will take over the venue each Wednesday evening during July. Consumers can celebrate the arrival of the new Hibiki Japanese Harmony and enjoy on a hand-carved ice sphere. Prices are $55 per person for a 3 course tasting menu, while a 6 course dinner will cost $120 per person. Suntory Whisky drinks with matching bar snacks will also be available daily throughout the month of July.
Tokyo Bird owners Tina and Jason are good friends of this blog, and have quickly established themselves as the place to go in Sydney for authentic Japanese whisky, cocktails and yakitori. We have no doubt these events will be well worth the (quite reasonable) prices.