Founded in 1899, Shinjiro Torii built the House of Suntory with a singular vision: to craft quintessentially Japanese spirits that would suit the delicate palate of his people. Against the backdrop of the Japanese Meiji Era, a period of rapid modernization during which Japan opened its eyes to the West for inspiration, young Shinjiro grew into an enterpreneur, maker and doer. The sophistication of Western wines and spirits -their cultural depth and wealth, rituals and savoir faire-inspired Shinjiro. He set out to introduce that culture to the Japanese people through the sale of Western wines. Yet, as Shinjiro worked tirelessly to educate and develop the people’s appreciation for Western wines, he learned that this was a difficult challenge.
Shinjiro met this challenge by creating something unique. Instead of relying on already existent wines, he learned to blend wines in order to develop a flavor profile adapted to the subtle Japanese palate. Obsessively mixing and layering tastes and aromas, he cultivated his skills as a craftsman of liquor. The result: the Akadama Port Wine*-a fortified wine made with Spanish wine. The launch of Akadama Port Wine with its iconic “advertising” in 1907 marked Shinjiro Torii’s first success-and made him crave more.
In 1972, Keizo Saji—Suntory's second Master Blender—took a momentous step forward in pursuing Shinjiro Torii’s vision for diverse and truly Japanese whiskies blessed with the riches of Japanese nature and craftsmanship. On the misty, calm shores of Chita Peninsula, Keizo built a distillery dedicated to creating the highest-quality Japanese grain whisky. Using mainly corn grain and a continuous multiple column distillation process, the Chita Distillery makes three types of grain whiskies. The heavy-type grain whisky is distilled through two columns, the medium-type through three columns, and the clean-type through four columns. This diversity is rare among grain whisky distillers as most only produce the heavy type. Due to their exceptional smoothness and balance, Chita grain whiskies have traditionally been used as the “dashi” or broth that enhances the harmony in Suntory’s renowned blended whiskies. But through many years of research and innovation, the Chita Distillery’s grain whiskies have achieved an unrivaled sophistication and complexity—culminating in The Chita Single Grain Whisky.
The Hakushu Distillery was founded half a century after Yamazaki. Keizo Saji inherited his father’s vision in his quest for innovation and constructed this second Suntory distillery in 1973. Keizo Saji, the second Master Blender, inherited his father’s quest to push the boundaries of what a Japanese whisky could be. He had searched all over Japan for high quality water that will become the most delicately aromatic to produce whisky that people would love. After searching with tenacity to the headstreams of rivers and deep into rugged mountains, he found Hakushu.The Hakushu Distillery is without question one of the highest distilleries in the world, built amidst the deepest forests of Mt. Kaikomagatake in the Japanese Southern Alps. The majestic forest that surrounds the Hakushu Distillery shelters an abundance of plant varieties reflecting the many expressions of Japanese nature. The malt whiskies born here are simultaneously blessed with a very particular microclimate, verdant forests, and water offering a rare softness and purity, only made possible by filtration of rain and snow through thousand-year-old granite rocks.
Enjoying an enthusiastic resurgence in modern cocktail culture, Gin, a.k.a. ‘Dutch Courage,’ was originally touted as a 16th century cure for cowardice and stomach ailments. Arguably the broadest and most dynamic category of spirits in terms of flavor profiles and production styles, Gin is a distilled grain spirit that derives its primary flavor from juniper berries and secondary flavors from a dazzling array of spices, herbs, fruits and botanicals. It is both produced and enjoyed all around the world and is most commonly mixed into cocktails such as the Martini or simply added to tonic water.