Japanese whisky producer Suntory has unveiled a collection of new limited-edition bottles in celebration of its 100th anniversary. Yamazaki, Japan’s first commercial whisky distillery, was founded by Shinjiro Torii in Osaka in 1923.
The new bottlings were launched at a star-studded party in London, hosted by film director Sofia Coppola and actor Keanu Reeves, who is a long-time fan of Suntory. Coppola has also created a short video to mark the House of Suntory. It features Reeves walking down a neon-drenched street before slipping into a bar and enjoying a glass of Hibiki 21 Year Old with friends, before showcasing some of the most famous Suntory ads from the past century.
Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara
Launched as part of the distillery’s Yamazaki range, Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara (Alc 48%) is a single malt aged in rare Mizunara oak casks. Suntory first began experimenting with Mizunara cask finishes in the 1940s, with earlier expressions produced by Master Blenders Shinjiro Torii and Keizo Saji.
Current chief blender Shinji Fukuyo said: ‘Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara features a rich texture created from a long ageing process. This expresses the delicate and meticulous attention to detail that went into its craftsmanship. I believe this whisky embodies the founding family’s spirit to pursue quality.’
Lingering and elegant, Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara has aromas of black cherry and ripe stone fruit, with spice notes that continue onto the palate, joined by exotic base tones of incense, sandalwood and coconut. It will retail for £1,600 with selected sellers including Harrods, The Whisky Exchange and The Whisky Shop.
Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt
The second new release comes from Suntory’s Hakushu distillery, one of the highest distilleries in the world, opened in 1973 on the slopes of Mount Kaikoma in Yamanashi. Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt (Alc 48%) is a blend of specially selected malt whiskies, all aged for a minimum of 18 years.
‘Blending is at the heart of everything we do at the House of Suntory, and we hold each of our whiskies to the highest standards throughout the process,’ commented Fukuyo.
Rich, complex and intense, Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt combines signature smokiness with layers of citrus and herbs, plus sweeter honeyed notes. Bottles will cost £1,275 from retailers including Harrods, The Whisky Exchange and The Whisky Shop.
In addition to the two new expressions, Suntory is also releasing a limited number of its classic Yamazaki 12 Year Old and flagship Hakushu 12 Year Old whiskies with commemorative centennial packaging.
Ardray blended Scotch whisky
In addition to the new Japanese launches, Suntory’s subsidiary company Beam Suntory has also launched a blended Scotch whisky called Ardray (Alc 48%). Created by Beam Suntory’s chief blender for Scotch, Calum Fraser, it’s a blend of malt and grain whiskies from the Beam Suntory portfolio, which includes Laphroaig, Bowmore, Ardmore and Glen Garioch.
‘The time, care and attention to detail taken to source both malt and grain whiskies from some of Scotland’s most noted distilleries has allowed us to explore hundreds of blends of Scotch malt and grain whiskies to achieve Ardray’s optimum balance of multi-layered flavours,’ said Fraser.
‘Ardray promises a rich and complex taste, with a distinctive harmony of flavours: a mild, gently floral, and citrusy fruitiness, with a vanilla custard creaminess and a rich, silky mouthfeel and lengthy aftertaste that is unmatched,’ he added.
Ardray is available from The Whisky Shop, The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt, priced at £60.