Hibiki Blender's Choice was probably the most controversial Japanese whisky of 2018. For many, it's yet another manifestation of the sad reality of Japanese whisky these days. To explain the background a bit for those who may have missed the trend, Japan's biggest whisky producers--including Suntory--have been discontinuing age-statement mainstream products and replacing them with non-age-statement (NAS) versions. It's pattern we've seen repeated with many major Japanese single malts, such as Yamazaki and Yoichi.
Rumors began to swirl early in 2018 that Hibiki 17 would be the next age-statement Japanese whisky to be discontinued. At the same time, we also heard rumors of the release of a "premium-grade" NAS version of Hibiki, dubbed Blender's Choice. Both of those rumors ended up being true. Seemingly adding salt to the wound, there was never a formal announcement of the release of Hibiki Blender's Choice to the general public. This is because officially, it's still only being sold via Suntory's wholesale/industry channels, and only here in Japan. As a result, while not terribly hard to find in bars in Tokyo, it's not really something you see sitting on store shelves.