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Hand-dipped. One at a time. Every time.
Suntory Whisky barrel
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Our History

 

 

 

Old photo of the House of Suntory building

The history of House of Suntory is the history of our founder Shinjiro Torii.

In 1923, Shinjiro Torii envisioned a whisky filled with the essence of Japanese nature and hand-crafted by artisans through a patient process of enhancing the work of nature. He dreamt of creating subtle, refined, yet complex whisky that would suit the delicate palate of the Japanese and enhance their dining experience. Torii chose the region of Yamazaki, on the outskirts of Kyoto as the birthplace of Japanese whisky.

A picture of Shinjiro Torii, the founder of House of Suntory

The Founder

Shinjiro Torii was born in the Meiji Period, when Western culture and civilization suddenly flowed into Japan. At a young age, Torii entered into an apprenticeship at a pharmaceutical wholesaler in Osaka that carried Western liquors. There he engaged in stylish Western pursuits and mastered techniques of mixing, then developed a discriminating palate and nose. He mastered techniques of mixing and blending through his apprenticeships. 

 

In the year 1899, Shinjiro Torii went independent, renting a modest house where generations of pursuit of a dream all started.

 

Explore Our Journey Through Time

1899
1907
1919
1923
1929
1936
1937
1956
1961
1972
1973
1984
1989
1994
2002
A picture of Shinjiro Torii in his younger years

1899

Shinjiro Torii founded the Torii Shoten store in Osaka.

 

Image of old Akadama Port Wine advertisement

1907

Akadama Port Wine, a sweet grape wine, blended by Shinjiro Torii, is introduced and becomes a huge success.

Old image of House of Suntory Plant in Osaka

1919

Shinjiro Torii establishes the Suntory Plant in Osaka.

Old photo of Yamazaki Distillery in Japan

1923

The Yamazaki Distillery, Japan’s first malt whisky distillery, starts construction on the outskirts of Kyoto.

A bottle of Suntory Shirofuda, white label

1929

Suntory Shirofuda (white label) is introduced as Japan’s first whisky, but fails. Torii learns that satisfying the delicate palate of the Japanese people is the main criteria of success.

Suntory's first Gin, Hermes Gin

1936

Suntory introduces its first gin, Hermes Gin

Old photo of bottle of Suntory Whisky Kakubin

1937

Suntory Whisky Kakubin (“square bottle”) is introduced and becomes the heart and soul of Japanese whisky. Kakubin remains Japan's top-selling whisky by value today. *Source: IWSR 2022

Suntory's first Vodka, Hermes Vodka

1956

Suntory introduces its first vodka, Hermes Vodka.

Master blender Keizo Saji is nosing whisky

1961

Keizo Saji becomes Suntory’s second Master Blender.

Whisky barrel from Chita Distillery

1972

Keizo Saji establishes the Chita Distillery on the Chita Peninsula.

Hakushu Distillery with twin spire roof

1973

The Hakushu distillery is established in the deep forest of the Japanese Southern Alps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Japanese Whisky.

Yamazki 12 year with old fanshioned glass of amber whisky

1984

Suntory Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki is introduced.

 

Hibiki whisky in iconic round bottle

1989

Suntory Whisky Hibiki is introduced.

Green bottle of Suntory Hakushu whisky

1994

Suntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu is introduced.

Master blender Shingo Torii is nosing whisky

2002

Shingo Torii becomes Suntory’s Third Master Blender.

More to Explore

About House of Suntory

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.
Statue of the founder of the House of Suntory, who shaped Japanese craftsmanship

Our Distilleries

Our distilleries are among the most unique in the world, with true artisanship and precise methods cultivated over generations.
View down the hall of the House of Suntory distillery with walls lined with barrels

Our Products

Our quintessentially Japanese spirits are crafter with a relentless pursuit of perfection, meticulous attention to detail, and commitment to quality.

Old fashioned glass with Suntory whisky over large round ice cube