The Yamazaki Distillery

Learn About the Yamazaki Distillery

yamazaki distilleryThe Yamazaki distillery is Japans oldest commercial whisky distillery. It was opened by Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, in 1923 in Yamazaki on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital.

The location was chosen because of the excellent water supply in the area. The climate is also diverse with relatively cold winters and hot, humid summers, which makes it suitable for the production and maturation of whisky. The distillery is located near a notable Shinto shrine called Minase. Historically, a famous tea master based his operation in the vicinity as the water was thought to be of outstanding quality.

For the first 10 years, Yamazaki was managed by the legendary Masataka Taketsuru, the “Father of Japanese Whisky” and the founder of Nikka Whisky. Taketsuru actually wanted to open the distillery in Hokkaido as he believed the climate there was most similar to the Scottish climate. Torii, however, feared that transportation costs would be too high and opted for Yamazaki instead.

Its first product was the Shirofuda, or “white label,” named so after the colour of the label. The Shirofuda appeared on the market in 1929. The reception was slightly disappointing; Japanese drinkers were unused to the strong taste of whisky and turned their backs on it. It wasn’t until 1937 that a whisky the Japanese would truly appreciate arrived. This was called Suntory Kabunin (“square bottle”), which is still widely sold to this day. Despite the success of Kabunin, the whisky industry was still operating at a loss, but this would change with the arrival of war. The Japanese army and navy were mad for whisky and demanded that Torii supply them with the spirit. He did and saw his fortunes turn. After the war, the U.S. army proved no less a fan of whisky and Torii continued to sell well. Business was booming, and the Yamazaki distillery was the sole supplier of whisky from Suntory until the Hakushu distillery was opened in 1973.

Today, Yamazaki has the largest market share of single malt whisky in Japan. The 18 year old Yamazaki single malt is thought by many to be the best whisky in the world and has for example won six consecutive double gold medals at the San Francisco Spirits Competition from 2008 to 2013. It also won a gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge in London in 2003. And in 2010 Suntory itself was named best whisky maker in the world.

The distillery is open for visitors and offers guided tours in Japanese and English. Around 7000 bottles of unblended whisky are on display in its whisky library. The museum also includes a section covering the history of Japanese whisky and a barrel factory shop with whiskies that can only be bought at the distillery.

Whisky From The Yamazaki Distillery

  • Yamazaki Tokyo live bar show 2013 mizunara cask A
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    Yamazaki Tokyo Live Bar Show 2013 Mizunara Cask

    $2,799.99

    Suntory is the oldest whisky making company in Japan. Its origins stretch back to a small shop, started in 1899 by Torii Shinjiro, which specialized in selling imported wines. Today, it is the country’s largest and most recognizable producer of quality whisky. This particular Yamazaki whisky was bottled in 2013 after being aged at a […]

  • Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Award Winning Single Malt Japanese Whisky
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    Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016

    $3,349.99

    Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 is making the media is go nuts! The world famous bottle was released on Monday, February 1st 2016, and people are, in one word, ecstatic! This bottle is officially considered the best whisky on the planet. It made headlines in the press in early 2015 when it was selected by The Whisky Bible as the Worlds Best Whisky, and consequently sold out exceptionally fast.

    In total, 5000 bottles were produced of the 2016 version. Bottled at 48%, the difference between this and the 2013 version is mainly the fact that the youngest whisky in the blend has been aged for two more years, and that's never hurt a blend thus far! Grab it while it's still here.

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    Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2012

    $3,099.99

    Our customers never tire of Yamazaki. The drink is aged in Oloroso sherry butts for over a decade, giving it its trademark taste. Jim Murray described this Yamazaki as “nutty, thick, dry … as rounded as a snooker ball” — and you know you’re on to something when Murray praises it.

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    Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2011

    $3,199.99

    Our customers never tire of Yamazaki. The Sherry Cask version, aged in Oloroso sherry butts for over a decade, give it its trademark taste, which is especially popular. Jim Murray described this Yamazaki as “nutty, thick, dry… as rounded as a snooker ball” — and you know you’re on to something when Murray praises it. […]

  • Yamazaki 2010 Sherry cask
    Yamazaki 2010 Sherry cask A
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    Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2010

    $3,599.99

    Suntory is the oldest whisky making company in Japan. Its origins stretch back to a small shop, started in 1899 by Torii Shinjiro, which specialized in selling imported wines. Today, it is the country’s largest and most recognizable producer of quality whisky. This 2010 release of Yamazaki single malt Japanese whisky has been matured solely […]

  • A picture of Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2009
    A picture of Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2009
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    Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2009

    $3,499.99

    The Yamazaki Sherry Cask needs no introduction, ever since the 2013 version was named the best whisky in the world by the whisky bible, people have been literally fighting over the few bottles that still haven’t been drank yet. And here we present the first vintage of them all the Yamazaki sherry cask 2009! Although […]