The House of Suntory is celebrating 100 years of crafting Japanese whiskies with the release of several limited-edition expressions plus a special film, the ‘Suntory Anniversary Tribute’. Created by Academy Award-winning director Sofia Coppola, the film features actor Keanu Reeves.
The limited-edition releases included Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara and Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt whiskies, as well as 100th anniversary labels of the flagship Yamazaki 12 Year Old and Hakushu 12 Year Old.
These will be available at selected travel retail locations from mid-June, supported by a series of immersive pop-up activations and advertising campaigns. The debut activation will take place at Singapore Changi Airport T1 in partnership with Lotte Duty Free Singapore. The installation will run from 15 June to 25 July, and will offer tastings, interactive digital activities and exclusive anniversary gifts for visitors.The anniversary whiskies will also be available through retail partners at Shanghai Pudong Airport, Dubai International Airport, Indira Gandhi International Airport and Heathrow Airport. Activations at these locations will be introduced from July onwards.
Beam Suntory Brand Marketing Director Global Travel Retail Manuel González commented: “This centennial is truly a milestone achievement, and we are very much looking forward to collaborating with our travel retail partners to mark this accomplishment.
“Together, we will really bring the celebrations to life through our planned programme of distinctive airport activations, designed to showcase the very special 100th anniversary editions of these exceptional Japanese whiskies and the art of Japanese whisky.”
“Hakushu and Yamazaki whiskies are gifts from our past handed down through generations,” added Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo. “It is fitting to release limited editions as part of this incredible milestone, as they represent our relentless pursuit of quality and symbolise our promise to carry our philosophy on for the next one hundred years and beyond.”
The House of Suntory started with the establishment of the Yamazaki Distillery in 1923 — the first and oldest malt whisky distillery in Japan’s history. Founder Shinjiro Torii’s legacy began with a dream to “create an original Japanese whisky blessed with the riches of Japanese nature and craftsmanship,” which his grandson Shingo Torii carries on today.
Its spirits portfolio includes Yamazaki, Hakushu, Chita, Kakubin, Hibiki, Suntory Whisky Toki and Ao, as well as Roku Gin and Haku Vodka. Taking a step towards the future, The House of Suntory is investing JPY10 billion (US$77 million) to enhance its Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries, which are currently closed for renovation and scheduled to reopen this autumn.
Behind the lens
Twenty years after filming ‘Lost in Translation’, Sofia Coppola returned to Japan to create the ‘Suntory Anniversary Tribute’, which depicts the meaning of ‘Suntory Time’. The cinematic tribute featuring Reeves, who previously appeared in a Suntory Reserve ad campaign in 1992, debuted on 23 May during the Suntory Time 100th Anniversary Global Premiere in New York City.
“As the pioneer of Japanese whisky, The House of Suntory played a significant role in shaping culture and leading craftsmanship in Japan over the last century,” said The House of Suntory Managing Director Jon Potter.
“To mark this historic milestone, partnering with Suntory Whisky fans Sofia and Keanu, makes perfect sense. From our Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo’s striking blends to Sofia and Keanu’s unique cinematic creations, this commemoration has surpassed all expectations to celebrate our iconic Japanese whiskies.” Later this summer, Reeves will star in another creative project in partnership with The House of Suntory: a series of documentary shorts titled ‘The Nature and Spirit of Japan’, directed by Roman Coppola. The series will explore Japanese whisky culture through three lenses: harmony with nature (Wa), Japanese craftsmanship (Monozukuri) and authentic Japanese cultural experience (Omotenashi). The docuseries aims to strike a balance between education and entertainment, fostering a deeper exploration of The House of Suntory and Japanese culture.
“I’m honoured to partner with Suntory again thirty years after our Suntory Reserve campaign,” said Keanu 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.” ✈