"I want to create a perfect whisky that reflects the nature of Japan and the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship." The history of Japanese whisky-making began with the passion of our founder, Shinjiro Torii, here in Yamazaki in 1923.
The founder of Suntory, Shinjiro Torii, decided to begin whisky-making with a passionate desire to "create a perfect whisky that reflects the nature of Japan and the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship."
His decision led him to embark on the difficult business of authentic domestic whisky-making that no one had ever attempted at the time. The history of Suntory whisky and the history of Japanese whisky began by the fearless challenge undertaken Torii, who embarked on whisky-making after prevailing against the opposition he faced.
Yamazaki, in southwestern Kyoto at the foot of Mt.Tennozan.
With his unwavering preference for the high-quality water and natural environment vital in whisky-making, Shinjiro selected the land of Yamazaki from among several candidate sites.
The area around Yamazaki Distillery has long been famous for its exquisite natural water, which is even mentioned in the Man'yoshu, the ancient anthology of Japanese poetry. The "Rikyu no Mizu"(water of the imperial villa) selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of Japan's one hundred best natural mineral waters, continues to bubble forth today.
For the process water used at Yamazaki Distillery, this pure and high-quality groundwater, nurtured slowly over eons, is used.
Surrounded by abundant nature, the unique terrain, where the Katsura, Uji, and Kizu Rivers meet, is the ideal moist and humid environment for the aging of whisky: Yamazaki is indeed a whisky-making utopia.
Whisky-making at Yamazaki Distillery is notable for its wide variety of whiskies, unique at a global level.
For example, we select among wooden and stainless steel washbacks in the fermentation process, 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."
Right-hand side：Third generation master blender Shingo Torii
In 2003, the Yamazaki 12 Years Old single malt whisky produced at Yamazaki Distillery became the first Japanese whisky to win the gold medal at the ISC (International Spirits Challenge)-a highly authoritative spirits competition in the world. Suntory has continued to win awards for its whiskies, earning global recognition for Japanese whisky.
Many craftsmen have passed on their skills, polished their techniques, and continued their research and development, improving the facilities while creating diversely flavored whiskies.
In an effort to create even more distinctive whiskies for the future, we built additional pot stills at Yamazaki Distillery in 2013.
Whisky-making at Suntory will continue to pass on traditions while taking up new challenges, evolving into the future.