Land of the Rising Suntory
Prized Japanese malt whisky label marks 100 years with limited-edition greatness.
When Shinjiro Torii established the Yamazaki Distillery on the outskirts of Kyoto in 1923, he believed he was following a dream. What he was really doing was rewriting the story of malt whisky.
Torii was an admirer of Scottish malts and had a vision of how that tradition could be interpreted through a Japanese environment and a Japanese sensibility.
If the beverages he revered from Scotland were shaped by their environment and the fundamental place they held in Scottish culture, what would the world see in the sky, soil and stills of Japan?
Since then, we have come to understand what Shinjiro Torii knew—that Japan can be the source of some of the world’s best malt whisky. To celebrate the centenary of the foundation of Japan’s first malt whisky distillery, The House of Suntory has released several limited-editions that embody the precision, patience and elevated craft that have become hallmarks of Japanese malt whisky.
The classic Suntory “Toki” ($79), a blend drawn from three of the company’s distilleries—Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita—receives commemorative packaging designed by Japanese artist Tansestu Ogino, who combined calligraphy with abstraction to create a representation of Toki, which translates to “time” in Japanese.
It too receives new livery to mark 100 years of artistry, featuring motifs of snow, the Moon and flowers representing Japan’s changing seasons; the kakehashi (bridge) depicted on the bottle links Japan and the world to the past, present and future; the water flowing underneath is pure and clear, symbolising the cleansing of hardships and calamity; the bridge represents the emotional connection of the Japanese people to their country’s unique seasonality and its significance in everyday life.
And for something that celebrates a momentous occasion, a limited- edition Hibiki 21 Year Old Suntory Whisky has been released. A meticulously crafted blend has been assembled, with careful consideration given to how best to emphasise the unique character of components aged in Japanese mizunara oak.
Bottled in very limited numbers at 43% ABV, it’s now available in Australia for $8,350 (700 ml) and selected markets globally. The Suntory story continues.
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