From the First Whisky in Japan to World-Class Whisky
- The aging cellar at the Yamazaki Distillery, where malt whisky slowly changes color to amber, acquiring a rich aroma and deep flavor.
The founder of Kotobukiya (the current Suntory), Shinjiro Torii, began building Japan's first whisky distillery on the outskirts of Kyoto in 1923. The district was Yamazaki, now known as the birthplace of Suntory whisky, an area also known for its excellent water since ancient times by the name Minaseno.
Suntory introduced Suntory Shirofuda ("white label") in 1929, the first genuine whisky to be produced domestically. After further refinements to suit the discriminating market of Japan, the premium whisky Kakubin ("square bottle") was born.
Another distillery was built in 1973 in Hakushu at the foot of Mt. Kaikomagatake in Japan's Southern Alps. Suntory refined its techniques at these two ideal distillery sites to develop a variety of first-rate unblended whiskies and bring to market such products as the single malt whiskies Yamazaki and Hakushu, as well as Hibiki blended whisky.
Following these achievements, Suntory has continued to pursue ever higher quality. In 2013, the 90th anniversary of Suntory whisky, Hibiki 21 Years Old captured the top Trophy award in the World Whiskies category at the 18th International Spirits Challenge 2013, an international spirits competition.
In addition, Suntory Liquors Limited was honored with the Distiller of the Year award, which is conferred upon a single company each year from among producers who create high quality and diverse products. This marked Suntory Liquors Limited’s third time to win the award after receiving it in 2010 and 2012.
Suntory's whisky brands have earned numerous other commendations as well in some of the world's most authoritative international liquor competitions.
(Record of awards received in major competitions)
- The Yamazaki Distillery, birthplace of Japan’s first whisky.
- The Hakushu Distillery, located in the foothills of Mt. Kaikomagatake in Japan’s Southern Alps, where cool, clear waters flow through a bountiful forest environment.
Bringing the World’s Most Celebrated Spirits to Japan
- Suntory imports a vast selection of renowned spirits and liqueurs that are popularly served in bars.
Wherever you go in the world, you will find spirits of deserved renown. Suntory was determined from an early stage to introduce to Japan the distinctive aromas and flavors nurtured by different nations’ climates and traditions, and so established ties with exemplary beverage makers around the world. Through this network we have built a business as the most capable distributor in the Japanese market.
- Jim Beam, Maker's Mark
- Ballantine’s 17 Years Old, Canadian Club
- The Macallan, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Glenfiddich
- Lejay-Cassis, Kahlúa, Campari, Aperol, MIDORI, MALIBU
Suntory is currently partnered with over 40 companies worldwide. We distribute more than 70 brands of imported Western spirits. These include such whisky brands as Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Ballantine's, and Canadian Club. We also import The Macallan, Bowmore, Laphroaig, and Glenfiddich single malt whiskies, which are becoming increasingly popular today. Other highly regarded liqueurs and spirits of the world we handle include Lejay-Cassis, Kahlúa, Campari, Aperol, MIDORI, Prucia plum liqueur, SKYY vodka, and Sauza tequila. Through our importing activities we give our customers in Japan an opportunity to share in the enjoyment of a wide range of esteemed beverages from around the world.
Introducing Western Liquors to Japan
Through each era over the decades, Suntory has introduced to Japan many kinds of non-Japanese spirits. For example, when interest in Western lifestyles heightened in the postwar years, we built a nationwide chain of Torys Bars and began publishing Yoshu Tengoku ("Western Liquor Heaven"), a PR magazine featuring innovative advertising and a variety of recommendations that introduced the casual enjoyment of Western liquors in everyday life.
In recent years, as a top producer and distributor of Western liquors, Suntory has been promoting drink variations that provide added value and new appeal to revitalize the market.
- Kakubin, a whisky popularly used in highballs, has remained a favorite through seven decades that have seen much historical change.
One example of this is the promotion of the "highball" style of drinking whisky mixed with soda. Highballs mixed with our Kakubin and Torys Extra whiskies have found wide popularity among men and women of all ages thanks to the launching of the canned Kaku Highball and canned Torys Highball products, a campaign to promote highballs and an increase in the number of bars and restaurants serving them. We also continue to promote a sophisticated culture of whisky enjoyment through premium whiskies such as Hibiki, Yamazaki, and Hakushu.
In the area of liqueurs, we stimulate demand by conveying the appeal of enjoying authentic cocktails at establishments such as bars and in the home with a focus on products Lejay-Cassis and Kahlúa.
- Hibiki, a whisky valued around the world for its elegant flavor and superior quality.
- Yamazaki, a leading Japanese single malt whisky.
- Refreshing single malt Hakushu cultivated in a forest distillery.