Hibiki 17 Year Old Popularity is Not Lost in Translation


The Hibiki 17 year old whisky producer might be stopping production, but the label that’s been around for thirty years has no signs of losing its popularity as one of the favorite Japanese whiskies. Suntory is one of the most recognized companies producing whisky in Japan these days.

One product has been especially successful in recent years, the Hibiki 17 year. Created by Suntory Holdings, the Hibiki 17-year-old is a blended whisky and one of the most popular grain whiskies around.

The company has been offering since 1989. Interestingly, Suntory recently announced they would no longer produce one of their most popular blends. This is music to the ears of any whisky collector who understands the laws of supply and demand. 

Hibiki Goes Hollywood

“For Relaxing times, make it Suntory Time” was the famous line Bill Murray delivered in the award-winning 2003 movie, Lost in Translation. This launched a huge boom for the Japanese whisky company as demand for Hibiki shot through the roof.

The whisky Bill Murray vaulted to stardom in the United States with his movie was the renowned Hibiki Japanese blend.

The Hibiki brand gained enormous popularity when it appeared in the 2003 movie “Lost in Translation” starring Bill Murray.

Decades of Hibiki 17 Year Old

The word Hibiki means “resonance” or “echo” in Japanese. Since 1899, when Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii opened his first shop in Osaka, the company has produced some of the most recognized and famous Japanese whiskey brands globally.

Over one hundred years of producing world-renowned whisky, along with a few major acquisitions, the company has grown to become the third-largest spirits maker in the world. 

Shinjiro Torii built the House of Suntory in 1899 and started the production of Hibiki Whisky. The goal of Shinjiro was to craft the most quintessential Japanese spirits to suit the palate of his homeland. Through fine craftsmanship, Suntory has created some of the most honored whiskies in the world, with Hibiki being possibly the most renowned Japanese blend.

Hibiki began by blending whiskies from three of Suntory’s distilleries, the Yamazaki distillery, the Hakushu, and Chita. For a blended whisky, Hibiki doesn’t have the grainy flavors commonly found in other Scottish whiskies. This leaves even the most experienced whisky drinkers thinking they are drinking a single malt rather than a blend. 

Rating The Suntory Hibiki 17

There are numerous ways to describe the iconic blend of Hibiki 17 made with aged malt and grain whiskies. Elegant. Slowly revealing a complex equilibrium. These are a few descriptions of the famous Japanese oak barreled Whiskey.

With its amber color and toffee, black cherry, and vanilla palate, the Hibiki 17 doesn’t disappoint. Experts would say its finish is sweet, maybe a little fruity, leaving a lychee aftertaste. There is no doubt it’s a fantastic Japanese blend.

Hibiki 17 Year Old Production

Along with its surprisingly smooth taste, the Hibiki also featured a unique bottle design different from the minimalist bottles from other distillers. The Hibiki 17-year-old bottle contains a 24 sided decanter with a parchment label and a heavy stopper on top. 

Unable to keep up with demand, Suntory has announced it will discontinue the Hibiki 17-year old blended Japanese whisky. This has led to prices for a bottle of Hibiki spiking up to over $600 or more. Some whisky-selling websites are featuring the 750 ml bottle for sale at over $800 each.

Suntory recently announced it would produce a new edition of the Hibiki 17, and fans of the whisky are sure to snatch up any bottles made available through whisky selling websites. It might be your last year to purchase a popular Japanese whiskey from Suntory.

Japanese Whisky Values

Hibiki 17
Image courtesy of the Rare Whisky 101 website, Japanese whisky values are continuing their great performance over the last few years. Visit Rare Whisky 101 for tons of great whisky collecting resources.

Another hugely popular bottle rated by Whisky Magazine is the Japanese Hibiki Harmony. With delicate floral aromas of rose, lychee, and honey, it received a 9.1 rating by taster Joe Bates. In addition, Bates noted the Harmony was a fruity and floral whisky of superb balance.

Reviewers have noted that the whiskey also represents gentle smoke, a nutty note, and various herbal notes. If you can get your hands on a bottle, see what descriptions you can come up with for the Suntory blends.

Learning how to taste whisky is an artform. Learn how to refine your pallet and discover new whiskies.