Photo by Ryo Nagisa on Unsplash

Exploring the Exquisite Craftsmanship and Captivating Flavors of Hibiki 12

June 21, 2023
4 mins read

Key takeaways:

  • Hibiki 12 is a meticulously crafted whisky made by master blenders at Suntory since 1989.
  • The blend combines malt whiskies from Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries with grain whisky from Chita.
  • Five different oak casks, including Mizunara, American white oak, Spanish sherry, Spanish red wine, and Japanese plum liqueur, contribute to the complexity and character of Hibiki 12.
  • The use of spring water sourced from Mt Kaikomagatake in Kyushu imparts a pure and smooth texture to the whisky.
  • Tasting notes reveal a delightful blend of flavors, including marmalade, apples, honey, plum wine, almonds, caramelized fruits, and clove-studded oranges.


Hibiki 12, the renowned whisky from Suntory, has captivated whisky enthusiasts worldwide with its masterful craftsmanship and tantalizing flavors. Since its creation in 1989, this exceptional blend has stood as a testament to the art of whisky-making. From the careful selection of ingredients to the meticulous aging process, Hibiki 12 represents the harmonious fusion of tradition, innovation, and a quest for perfection.

The Art of Making Hibiki 12

At the heart of Hibiki 12 lies the expertise of Suntory’s master blenders. The blend showcases the harmonious marriage of malt whiskies sourced from Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita distilleries, along with the addition of grain whisky from Chita. This careful combination sets the stage for the symphony of flavors that await those who savor a glass of Hibiki 12.

To enhance the whisky’s depth and complexity, Suntory ages Hibiki 12 in five distinct types of oak casks. These casks, each with its unique properties, contribute their individual aromas and flavors to the final product. From the rare Mizunara oak, which imparts a distinctive Japanese essence, to the richness of American white oak, the Spanish sherry casks, Spanish red wine casks, and the Japanese plum liqueur cask, the whisky matures and evolves, acquiring remarkable nuances along the way.

The Secret Ingredient: Pure Spring Water

While the blend of whiskies creates the foundation for Hibiki 12’s remarkable flavor, there is a secret ingredient that sets it apart—the pure spring water used in its production. Flowing through the majestic Mt Kaikomagatake on Kyushu’s southern island, this water is renowned for its exceptional purity. As it passes through layers of volcanic rock, it undergoes a natural filtration process, ensuring its pristine quality. When Suntory draws this water from its source and incorporates it into the whisky-making process, it contributes to the remarkably smooth texture and delicate sweetness that define Hibiki 12.

Tasting Notes: A Symphony of Flavors

A testament to the artistry of Suntory’s master blenders, the tasting notes of Hibiki 12 reveal an orchestra of flavors that dance on the palate. As you indulge in a glass, expect the following sensations:

  • Nose: The nose greets you with the tantalizing aroma of sweet, succulent marmalade, adorned with juicy orange pieces. The scent of cinnamon-sprinkled apples, simmered to perfection, fills the air, accompanied by a delightful concoction of honey and plum wine.
  • Palate: On the palate, the journey continues with succulent crushed almonds and caramelized fruits. Fragrant clove-studded oranges captivate the senses, while the intensity of a sherried malt takes center stage, balanced with a hint of oak that adds complexity to the experience.
  • Finish: The grand finale leaves a luscious blend of tart apple and bright citrus, a harmonious conclusion that leaves a lasting impression on your taste buds.

Exploring the History of Hibiki 12

To truly appreciate Hibiki 12, it’s important to delve into its rich history and the legacy of Suntory. Founded in 1899 by Shinjiro Torii, Suntory initially focused on importing and selling western liquors. However, driven by a vision and the recognition of Japan’s potential for whisky production, Torii decided to establish his own distillery. In 1923, Suntory opened Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in Yamazaki, near Kyoto.

Over time, Suntory expanded its whisky production capabilities, establishing distilleries such as Hakushu and Chita. These distilleries allowed Suntory to create a diverse range of whiskies, each with its unique flavor profile. It is from these renowned distilleries that the malts and grains used in Hibiki 12 are carefully selected.

Released in 1989, Hibiki 12 swiftly garnered acclaim for its exceptional smoothness and complexity. The combination of malts from Yamazaki and Hakushu, along with grain whisky from Chita, struck a harmonious balance of sweet and smoky flavors, with delightful hints of fruit and oak. The aging process in five different cask types further enriched the whisky, leading to its recognition as the “World’s Best Blended Whiskey” at the 2014 World Whiskies Awards.

Mixing Up the Perfect Hibiki 12 Cocktails

Beyond savoring Hibiki 12 neat, this versatile whisky lends itself beautifully to a variety of cocktails. Here are three delightful recipes to explore:

  • The Manhattan: A classic cocktail that showcases the elegance of Hibiki 12. In a shaker filled with ice, combine two ounces of Hibiki 12 whisky, one ounce of sweet vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Shake until chilled, then strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with fresh ice cubes. Garnish with an orange peel twist, and let the harmony of flavors unfold with every sip.
  • The Old Fashioned: An enduring favorite, the Old Fashioned is a timeless drink that highlights the character of Hibiki 12. In an old fashioned glass filled with ice cubes, combine two ounces of Hibiki 12 whisky, two dashes of Angostura bitters, and one teaspoon of sugar syrup (or simple syrup). Stir until well mixed, allowing the flavors to meld. For an extra touch, garnish with an orange slice or a cherry, elevating the visual appeal of this classic libation.
  • The Japanese Highball: A refreshing and invigorating cocktail, the Japanese Highball showcases the light and crisp nature of Hibiki 12. Fill a highball glass with ice cubes, and add four ounces of chilled club soda along with two ounces of Hibiki 12 Whisky. Stir gently to combine the elements, and garnish with a lemon wedge to enhance the visual allure. Sip and savor the delicate interplay of bubbles and flavors on a warm summer day or evening.


With its rich history, meticulous craftsmanship, and captivating flavor profile, Hibiki 12 stands as a testament to the art of whisky-making. Suntory’s master blenders have carefully created a symphony of flavors, skillfully combining a diverse range of whiskies aged in five different cask types. The addition of pure spring water sourced from Mt Kaikomagatake further enhances its smooth texture and delicate sweetness.

Whether enjoyed neat or in the form of a classic cocktail, Hibiki 12 offers a sensory experience like no other. Its reputation as a world-class whisky has been solidified by numerous awards and the adoration of whisky connoisseurs worldwide. Embark on a journey into the realm of Hibiki 12 and discover the harmonious flavors that have captivated the hearts of whisky enthusiasts everywhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Comments

Photo by Luwadlin Bosman on Unsplash

About Levi Keswick

LeviKeswick serves as a vibrant hub for diverse individuals to share their stories, absorb and contribute to emerging fashion trends, lifestyle concepts, and innovative ideas. We offer valuable insights and advice, amalgamating information painstakingly curated by experts in the field, alongside fashion connoisseurs and influential social media personalities.