In the quest to create a malt whisky completely different from Yamazaki Distillery, our whisky makers kept searching for the best water for mashing. After looking all over the country, they came across "Hakushu," one of the most famous water areas in Japan. In 1973, exactly half a century after the birth of the first Japanese malt whisky distillery, Suntory established its second malt whisky distillery "Hakushu."
Making a long journey through the mountains in the Southern Alps, the clear underground water in Hakushu is soft, sharp in taste and contains the right amount of minerals. Whisky mashed using this water has a pleasant and gentle flavor, quite different from the deep, florid taste of Yamazaki.
With the setting up of Hakushu Distillery, Suntory was now able to create even more wide-variety of whiskies.
The four seasons at Hakushu
Whisky-making at Hakushu Distillery is notable for its wide variety of whiskies, unique at a global level.
In the fermentation process, we use only high-quality heat preserving wooden washbacks, setting to work lactobacillus and other naturally occurring conditions in the distillery, thereby creating a flavor unique to Hakushu.
Between different sizes and shapes of pot stills in the distillation process, and between various kinds of casks in the maturation (aging) process, creating a highly diverse variety of whiskies at every step of the process from mashing through fermentation, distillation, and maturation (aging).
The various whiskies matured in casks pass into the care of the blenders.
The blenders evaluate the extent of maturation of whisky in each cask and carefully select and determine the combination of whiskies that will best be vatted into a final product with exactly the right characteristics.
They taste up to two or three hundred types of whisky a day, and predict when each cask will be at its best and when it should be used.
These skillful craftsmen also manage our collection of whiskies by foreseeing what kind of whiskies will be needed in the future. Given the long time required from mashing until the product is ready, whisky-making can be considered "collaborative work between blenders of the past, present, and future."
A scene from the award ceremony, 21st International Spirits Challenge 2016
In 2006, our single malt whisky "Hakushu 18 years old" won the gold award in the prestigious "ISC (International Spirits Challenge)." After that, Hakushu and other Suntory brands have been presented many awards.
The world came to recognize Suntory whisky as Japanese whisky. We built additional stills at Hakushu Distillery in 2014 to further diverse whisky making in the future.
Many craftsmen have passed on their skills, polished their techniques, and continued their research and development, improving the facilities while creating diversely flavored whiskies at "Mountain Forest Distillery."
Whisky-making at Suntory will continue to pass on traditions while taking up new challenges, evolving into the future.