Hibiki 17-Year-Old discontinued
According to a report by Forbes, Beam Suntory will no longer produce the popular 17-year-old blend
In times of booming whisky markets, the construction of new distilleries, the expansion of existing ones and the market launch of numerous new bottlings, this headline may even seem bizarre: The popular and multi-award-winning Japanese Premium Blend Hibiki 17-Year-Old is to be phased out of the core range from September 2018 and production will cease. This follows the Hibiki 12-Year-Old, which the Japanese have not been producing since 2015.
At a closer look, this measure is a logical consequence of the underestimated whisky boom of recent years and the resulting enormously high demand for Japanese whisky. In addition, the sharp decline in whisky consumption in Japan from 1983 to 2007 by a whopping 80% led to many producers reducing their production volumes, in some cases significantly, which the whisky world is recognising today.
Hibiki 17-, 21- and 30-Year-Old
The brand Hibiki, which in Japanese means "resonance", first appeared on the Japanese market in 1989, at that time initially without age statement, before the 17-Year-Old was introduced shortly afterwards. Over 35 different malt and grain whiskies matured for at least 17 years in different cask, such as ex-Bourbon barrels, Sherry and Mizunara casks. This bottling was followed by a 21-Year-Old (1994) and three years later the exclusive Hibiki 30 years. Common to all premium blends, created from the best whiskies from the three distilleries belonging to the Beam Suntory Group - Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita - is the eye-catching bottle design. The high-quality bottle shows 24 facets that symbolise both the 24 hours in a day and the 24 "small seasons" of the Japanese calendar. For the bottle label, handmade and fourfold printed Echizen paper is used.
The Hibiki brand gained enormous recognition in 2003 with the award-winning American romantic comedy drama "Lost in Translation" by director Sofia Coppola, which triggered the first major surge in demand for this Japanese whisky. Currently – in contrast to Hibiki 21 and 30 years – only the Hibiki Japanese Harmony, introduced as the successor of the 12-Year-Old, is available on the market at still affordable prices.
But there is also good news: Although inventories are decreasing, Suntory continues to be optimistic and is taking appropriate measures. Since 2013, the Japanese company has invested more than 182 million US-dollars in the expansion of production and warehouses. The two locations Yamazaki and Hakushu were extended by stills and the company's "Ohmi Aging Cellar", built in 1972, was significantly expanded.