6 Exceptional Japanese Whiskies From The House Of Suntory
From single malts to highball heroes, these are the whiskies worth trying from the renowned Japanese house.
Once a spirit reserved for those in the know, Japanese whisky is having a moment—one that’s in fact now lasted decades.
While Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation – starring Bill Murray as an actor travelling to Japan to shoot a Suntory Whisky commercial – helped put the spirit on the map, its unparalleled finesse and singular favour palette (often lighter, less-peaty, more complex, and punchier than its Scotch cousins) has made it a mainstay in the whisky cabinets of connoisseurs the world over. To that end, several revered Japanese distilleries are struggling to keep up with global demand.
For many, the House of Suntory is synonymous with Japanese whisky. From Hakushu and Yamazaki to Chita and Hibiki, the artisanal spirit house has charmed the globe through not only its high-quality tipples, but the embodiment of Japanese philosophies and traditions in every expression.
The House of Suntory has no shortage of exceptional single malts and blends, however, a few stand out from the rest. To help narrow the search for the perfect drop, we’ve compiled the six best top-shelf Japanese whiskies to try in 2023.
Hibiki 21-Year-Old Blended Japanese Whisky
A celebration of blending prowess, the Hibiki (meaning ‘harmony’) range spotlights the nation’s unique approach to the spirit.
Each Hibiki expression comprises dozens of whiskies produced across each of House of Suntory’s distilleries—Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita—and can contain spirits aged in American oak barrels, Spanish Olorosso sherry casks, and even the famed Japanese Mizunara oak barrels. First introduced in 1989, Hibiki was designed to be sipped neat or on the rocks.
The epitome of luxurious imbibing, the Hibiki 21 Years Old is more wood driven than its younger counterparts (the 17 and 12 year olds). Comprising thirty malts with a minimum age of 21 years, it features rich notes of dried fruit, orange peel, strawberry jam, baked apple, and Mizunara oak—with Hibiki’s signature floral acidity tempering the richness.
$1600 (700ml); house.suntory.com
Hakushu 18-Year-Old Peated Malt Anniversary Edition
Expressions from House of Suntory’s Hakushu distillery, located in the mountains of Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture, are defined by their forest environment and peated malt. Created to celebrate the House of Suntory’s 100th anniversary, the Hakushu 18 Peated Malt Anniversary Edition is no exception.
The crisp, verdant expression comprises several carefully curated single malt whiskies, each aged a minimum of 18 years. A refined take on the peated stuff, it’s subtle and nuanced, with gentle smoky notes allowing the herbaceous, fruity, and honeyed flavours to shine. A lingering finish brings clean smoke and fresh citrus.
$3399 (700ml); house.suntory.com
Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Mizunara Anniversary Edition
Located in Kyoto, the Yamazaki distillery is the birthplace of Japanese whisky. Its light, clean, floral notes are the ideal entry point to Japanese whisky, with Yamazaki serving as the House of Suntory’s flagship single malt.
Showcasing the signature Japanese character and elegance of Mizunara oak, this centennial edition comprises meticulously selected whiskies exclusively aged in the rare wood. A quintessential expression of House of Suntory’s Japanese whisky prowess, the Yamazaki 18 Years Old Mizunara Anniversary Edition opens with soft orangette notes with a hint of incense, with a long, smooth finish of clove, sandalwood, and agarwood—a whisky worth savouring.
$4199 (700ml); house.suntory.com
Hakushu 12-Year-Old, 100th Anniversary Edition Label
An homage to ‘Monozukuri’ craftsmanship – which prioritises quality, ingenuity, and expressiveness – this limited-edition label release encapsulates the clean style of the Hakushu distillery. A herbal nose of basil and pine needle is complemented by sweet pear, mint, and kiwi fruits on the palette, with a soft finish of delicate smoke and green tea.
$599 (700ml); house.suntory.com
Yamazaki 12-Year-Old, 100th Anniversary Edition Label
Honouring Japan’s oldest distillery, the Yamazaki 12-Year-Old 100th Anniversary Edition Label is formed on meticulously selected malt whiskies, each aged a minimum of 12 years in various casks—primarily American oak and ex-bourbon. A reflection of the mountainous region its produced in, the expression is defined by a heady palette of coconut, cranberry, and butter, with a long finish of ginger and cinnamon.
$599 (700ml); house.suntory.com
Composed of Hakushu malted whiskies—as well as a healthy dose of The Chita, the House of Suntory’s signature single grain variant—Toki forms the ideal base for highballs. Uniting old and new, its smooth mouthfeel and vibrant palette of grapefruit, green grapes, peppermint, and thyme make for wonderfully easy drinking, while a finish of vanilla oak, white pepper, and ginger lend just enough zest and spice to cut through mixers.
$77 (700); house.suntory.com
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