Inside the House of Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery in Japan.

TODAY, SUNTORY is one of the world’s most prestigious and reputable whiskey makers, credited with bringing Japanese spirits to the global stage through a commitment to tradition and a dedication to craftsmanship. That journey began in 1923, when the ambitious Shinjiro Torii founded the pioneering House of Suntory’s first malt distillery and decided to “create an original Japanese whisky blessed with the riches of Japanese nature and craftsmanship.” 

100 years on, and Suntory continues to produce Japan’s most exciting and expertly crafted whiskies. To celebrate such a feat—not every whiskey lover makes it to 100—the coveted brand has released several limited-edition whiskies. Among these are its iconic Yamazaki and Hakushu Whiskies, which are being released in 18-year-old Mizunara and Peated Malt editions respectively. The 12-year-olds, meanwhile, will be released with limited edition labels. 

The Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries have historical significance for Suntory. The Yamazaki was the first malt whisky distillery in Japan, while the Hakushu is symbolic of Suntory’s cutting-edge style. 

“These centennial anniversary whiskies serve as a testament to the brand’s heritage, innovation, and the pursuit of excellence throughout its century-long history,” says Suntory Global Advocacy Manager James Bowker. “Each captures something unique from Suntory’s two storied distilleries that is worthy of celebration: the discovery of Mizunara at Yamazaki and the uniquely soft smokiness of Hakushu.”

House of Suntory’s limited edition Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Mizunara Whiskey.

A testament to Suntory’s commitment to quality, the company is investing 10 billion JPY ($105 million AUD) to enhance its Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries. Which Bowker says will “serve as another symbol of the company’s persistent innovation in whisky making.”

Not only does 2023 mark 100 years since Shinjiro Torii established Japan’s first whisky distillery, it also marks the 50th anniversary of the Hakushu distillery’s foundation in 1973. As such, Hakushu’s celebratory whiskies are an appropriately impressive achievement in spirit making. Situated deep in Mt. Kaikomagatake, Hakushu blenders work with peat, which filters through granite rocks to give their whiskies a signature smoky taste in malt’s that provide refined yet complex elegance.

The limited-edition Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt encompasses a purposefully selected range of whiskies that have been aged for at least 18 years in American oak casks. Featuring vibrant notes of sage, green apple, and pineapple, it has a signature smoky flavour that uncovers layers of herbal grapefruit, honey and green citrus.

The Hakushu 12 Year Old whisky, meanwhile, presents notes of basil, pine needle, and green apple on the nose, while treating partakers in this beverage to sweet pear, mint, and kiwi on their palate. 

House Of Suntory’s limited edition Hakushu 18-Year-Old Peated Malt Whiskey.

The historic Yamazaki Distillery, founded by Shinjiro Torii 100 years ago, is the oldest malt distillery in Japan. Yamazaki whisky’s distilling process utilises precision and craftsmanship, making use of the distillery’s surrounding natural environment to deliver distinct flavour. As Bowker explains, “this combination of traditional craftsmanship and innovation contributes to what makes Yamazaki Single Malt unique.”

Yamazaki’s 18 Year Old Mizunara is exclusively aged in rare Mizunara oak casks. The malt produces rich and complex notes of cherry, peach, cinnamon and nutmeg. On the palate, it is accentuated by clove, sandalwood, and coconut and is spiced with notes of Japanese incense, whereas the classic Yamazaki 12 Year Old presents peach, pineapple, grapefruit, clove, orange, and vanilla aromas on the nose. With a flavour profile of coconut, cranberry and butter, and sweet ginger and cinnamon undertones.

For one of Japan’s oldest and most respected whiskey brands, Suntory continues to not only innovate, but remain in dialogue with popular culture—you may recall the fictional ‘Suntory Time!’ advert that Bill Murray starred in, from Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film Lost In Translation. It’s 100 year anniversary, then, is a cause for celebration. We’ll be toasting with some limited edition Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara—on the rocks.

The House of Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery in Japan.

In partnership with House of Suntory.