Whisky a winner, with Japan at the top of its game

Eat & Drink

As anyone following this year’s FIFA World Cup can attest, the Japanese have been anything but consistent.
Hibiki Blossom Harmony 2022 | Image source: Supplied

Slaying giants of the game like Germany yet falling short against less formidable opponents in Costa Rica. When it comes to producing whisky however, Japan remains at the top of its game, steadily challenging Scotland, Ireland, and the US to be considered one of the most desired and admired producers in the world. 

The House of Suntory has long led the way for Japanese whiskies on the world stage, with its Yamazaki range all but defining the country’s single malt legacy, and its Hibiki line up being considered among the finest of blends on the market. It is, however, this year’s Hibiki Blossom Harmony release that has me dusting the cobwebs off my typewriter, and for good reason.  

As I watched the news reports flow in this week from Qatar, I could not help but notice the world’s admiration of Japanese fans staying behind to clean up after themselves in the stadiums. This is a testament to a culture of respect, but also one of discipline. This notion of discipline runs deep in Japan, and that is what makes this particular whisky so special. 

The Blossom Harmony has been finished in Sakura – a notoriously more difficult barrel, prone to leaking and undoubtably required more trial and error than most producers would endure. However, Suntory pressed on and what is left is a truly remarkable blend, that while light and pure also complex and rich. The pronounced floral notes from the Sakura seep through and live long on the palate. The 24-sided bottle, meant to represent Japan’s 24 micro seasons, is more than just creative marketing –there is a depth to this blend that is truly uncommon. Hints of hibiscus, orange peel and jasmine soon give way to a deeper finishing of rich chocolate and set up a clear juxtaposition from first to last notes – as if to promote a journey through the seasons. 

Those of us who enjoy a drink, of any variety or frequency, know that it comes down to personal taste – one person’s single malt is another’s cask wine. However what Suntory have produced in the Blossom Harmony is certainly unique. Paired with a Maduro 5 Cohiba, this whisky can easily be enjoyed at sundown on a yacht, by the fire in the deep of winter, and watching the leaves fall or a tree come into blossom.  

With recent unopened bottles of Suntory Whisky selling for 20x their original market rate, investing in this limited release is tempting. However, my advice, if you can find a bottle, is to follow the request of master blender Shinji Fukoyo and enjoy it with “Someone special, who makes you blossom” … Just be sure to clean up after yourselves. 

The author is over the age of 18 years and received from the company a bottle Hibiki Blossom Harmony 2022 to review.