Suntory, the Founding House of Japanese Whisky, is celebrating its 100th anniversary, a major milestone for not only Suntory, but Japanese spirit making as the Yamazaki Distillery, established in 1923, is the first and oldest malt whisky distillery in Japan – a historical feat needing no explanation. To celebrate, Suntory are releasing several limited edition whiskies alongside the Suntory Anniversary Tribute brought to you by Academy Award-winning director, Sofia Coppola, and starring Keanu Reeves.
Coppola is no stranger to Suntory, you may even remember the fictional advertisement she did for the brand in the film Lost in Translation starring Bill Murray. She has returned to Japan after 20 years as the creative director of The Suntory Anniversary Tribute, telling the remarkable story of the brand’s heritage and legacy over the last 100 years.
The Tribute stars Keanu Reeves who is also no stranger to Suntory, having appeared in the Suntory Reserve ad campaign in 1992. Reeves will also appear in a series of documentary shorts about Suntory directed by Roman Coppola titled, The Nature and Spirit of Japan.
“I’m honoured to partner with Suntory Whisky again thirty years after our Suntory Reserve campaign,” said Reeves. “I’m a huge fan of Suntory Whisky, so it’s very special to collaborate in honour of this milestone anniversary. My admiration for the whisky goes beyond tasting the whisky. It is the elevated Japanese craftsmanship and attention to every detail that makes Suntory Whisky so special. As an actor honing and perfecting my own craft, sharing this process in a docuseries is a thrill.”
Celebrate with the Finest
The limited edition whiskies highlight the unique Japanese craftsmanship and the meticulous art of blending that make Suntory famous. These include the Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Mizunara and the Hakuushu 18-Year-Old Peated Malt, as well as limited edition labels for the Yamazaki 12-Year-Old and Hakushu 12-Year-Old whiskies.
The 18-year-old Yamakazi is created solely in Mizunara casks resulting in a showcase of the distinct flavour of Mizunara oak, the signature “enhancer” of Yamazaki. This whisky is considered a gift from past Suntory craftsmen. The Mizunara oak is notoriously difficult to work with, but Suntory has been experimenting with it since the 1940s. These whiskies are now matured to ensure they take on the distinctive Japanese spiciness and incense-like flavour of sandalwood and agarwood. This whisky is presented at 48% ABV with a RRP of $4,199 AUD.
The 18-year-old Hakushu in comparison has been aged in various casks but worked with peat by Hakushu Distillery blenders, who also soften the palate with regional mountain water filtered through granite rocks.
Peat is often associated with Scotch whiskies, but the Hakushu differs with its flavour, referred to as the “Japanese Smoky”. The smoky flavour isn’t strong or dominant, but rather gentle and complex. The smoke adds to the flavour balance – a spicy, peppery welcome, with a slow wave of smoke that deepens to reveal the herb notes and green fruity undertones. This whisky is presented at 48% ABV with a RRP of $3,399 AUD.
The anniversary isn’t just celebrating the House of Suntory’s past, but looking towards the future. As a first step, the House of Suntory is investing 10 billion JPY ($77 million USD) to enhance the Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries. Truly something to celebrate.