Suntory Holdings is a Japanese brewing and distilling group that offers world-class consumer products. They hold key brands in a variety of industries, including spirits, beverages, food, beer, wine, and health foods.
One item they are best known for is their Japanese whiskeys.
Suntory whiskeys are artful and have been around since 1923. They mimic the Scottish style of whiskey, but offer a unique flare.
A Quick History on Suntory Holdings
Suntory was established in 1899, but they did not dive into distilleries until 1923. Originally, they were a distributor of alcoholic beverages in Japan.
The first whiskey was released by Suntory in 1929. It was the Suntory Whisky Shirofuda, which was a white label first single malt whisky made in Japan. It was also the first whisky to sell in the country.
Suntory transformed into Suntory Holdings Limited in 2009, after the company became a stockholding company that acquired the following: Suntory Beverage and Food Limited, Suntory Products Limited, Suntory Wellness Limited, Suntory Liquors Limited, Suntory Beer & Spirits Limited, Suntory Wine International Limited, and Suntory Business Expert.
In 2009, they also acquired Orangina, an orange soft drink. Then, they went on to purchase energy drinks.
Just some of the holdings that Suntory has now include:
- Beam Suntory
- Frucor Beverages Limited
- Pepsi Bottling Ventures, LLC
- Subway Japan
- Tipco F&B Co., Ltd.
Today, their headquarters are in Osaka, Japan.
What is Beam Suntory?
In the United States, you might have noticed the distillery known as Beam Suntory, Inc. This American manufacturer is part of the Suntory Holdings of Japan, and they operate as a U.S.-based subsidiary. It opened in 2011, and they create brands from the Fortune Brands.
Some of the unique whisky and spirits to come from Beam include:
- Jim Beam
- Maker’s Mark
- Jim Beam Rye
- Teacher’s Highland Cream
- Sauza Tequila
- Pinnacle Vodka
- Jack Rum
Suntory Time! Suntory’s Debut in Modern Pop Culture
Suntory gained popularity in the United States after Bill Murray highlighted Suntory in the movie Lost in Translation. In fact, many give Murray credit for the Japanese whisky boom. After all, before the film, many did not know about Japanese whisky.
In the movie, Murray created a tagline, “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”
Since then, the slogan has stuck and become part of pop culture.
The whisky highlighted in the movie was the Suntory Hibiki 17 Whisky.
The Key Differences in Suntory Whisky
While Suntory and other Japanese whisky brands tend to take on the processes of the Scottish distilleries, there are key differences to note.
- Yamazaki. The Yamazaki whisky has notes of honey, clove, and spiced peaches.
- Hakushu. This form of whisky is green and fresh. It carries notes of ginger, smoky leaves, and crisp mint.
- Hibiki. The whisky featured by Bill Murray is a blend of Yamazaki and Hakushu. It ages in a barrel that once aged plum liqueur, and the result is a smoky, spicy flavor with tropical fruit notes, delicate sweetness, and a small hint of tart flavoring.
Suntory Highball Recipe
Most Japanese whisky, while fine for sipping, are integrated into cocktails. For the Suntory highball recipe, multiple versions are available online. However, the most important fact to remember is that you must use high-quality ice. In Japan, they use ice made in the winter from the Japanese mountains and store the ice in caves for a year.
To make a high ball, use the Hakushu 12-year and combine it with soda water.