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In February 1899, Shinjiro Torii opened a store in Osaka, Japan that traded in imported wines. Within a decade, Torii began producing his own sweet grape wine called Akadama Port Wine, which became wildly popular throughout the country. In 1923, Torri - fascinated by whisky his entire life - decided to expand his business and began construction of the Yamazaki Distillery, Japan's first-ever whisky distillery.
Although inspired by traditional Scottish distilleries, Torii envisioned a uniquely Japanese approach to whisky and chose a location for his distillery that offered a climate and terrain that were completely different than those of Scotland. Nestled on the periphery of Kyoto, Yamazaki Distillery is situated at the confluence of three rivers - the Katsura, Uji and Kizu - that provide the warm, damp environment ideal for the production and maturation of whisky.
Fifty years after the construction of Yamazaki Distillery, Keizo Saji inherited his father's vision and constructed Suntory's second distillery. Situated amidst the deep forests of Mount Kaikomagatake in Japan's southern Alps, the Hakushu Distillery enjoys a unique microclimate as a result of being surrounded by nearly 6,000 varieties of plants and thousand-year-old granite rocks.
Hibiki 12 Year Old Japanese Whisky is crafted from a blend of over 30 unique whiskies produced at both Yamazaki Distillery and Hakushu Distillery, including some that have matured in previously-used Umeshu casks (Umeshu casks are specially coopered casks that are used in the maturation of plum liqueur). "This is all done by hand - the traditional way," says Osamu Abe, the manager of Yamazaki Distillery, referring to the cooperage taking place at the distillery. "This is called yagura - craftsmanship. You must watch and listen to how they're made. In Japan, we say "use all 5 senses.' Of course we learn from others, but our own senses are key."
After each whisky used to craft Hibiki Whisky has matured for a minimum of 12 years (although some whiskies are matured as long as 30 years), the whisky is brought to proof using pure Japanese spring water. Hibiki, which translates to "resonance" in English, echoes the unique environment in which the whisky is distilled and matured. The whisky has an aroma of fruits, particularly pineapples and plums, with hints of honey and custard. The aroma gives way to a soft, mellow flavor profile that has notes of caramel, honeyed oak and apricots. The finish, which is elegant and complex, has touches of spicy wood, dried fruits and sour candy.
Hibiki 12 Year Old Japanese Whisky earned the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the Gold Medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition, where it was named Best in Class. In addition, it earned a score of 93 points from the Beverage Testing Institute.
Each bottle of Hibiki 12 Year Old Whisky is crafted with 24 facets that represent the 24 seasons of the Japanese lunar calendar.
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