As you may know, the Chinese have their very own zodiac, where each year is represented by one of twelve animals. The number twelve stems from the fact that the ancient Chinese followed the planet Jupiter, which takes almost twelve years to circle the sun. As well as being popular in China, the zodiac is also followed in other East Asian countries, including Japan. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that Japanese whisky makers have produced their own zodiac bottles of whisky. Many Suntory Old bottles for example have the zodiac year’s animal printed on their label. Then there are the Suntory Royal bottles, which often are quite extravagant, taking the shape of the respective animal. We think these bottles are pretty awesome, and evidently, many of our customers agree, as the bottles tend to be popular.

With that being said, we at dekantā think it’s time dedicate an article to these beautiful, eminently collectible bottles. Whether you are fanatical about the zodiac bottles and want to own the whole set, or simply want the bottle for the year you are born, we’ve got you covered!

So, let’s take a brief look at the zodiac bottles, and the animals they represent!


The Rat

Years: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032

The Chinese zodiac circle starts with the rat – an animal without a particularly good reputation in the western world. However, the Chinese beg to differ, seeing the positive traits of this animal. In daily vocabulary, the Chinese do not actually distinguish between rats and mice; rats are simply seen to be animals a little bigger than mice. Rats are known to be acute and alert, with excellent instincts; they tend to react effectively prior to bad things happening. They are curious and adventurous creatures, eager to try anything out. These characteristics makes those born in the Year of the Rat excellent businessmen, and they tend to have more money than the average person.

We at dekantā currently only have one rat bottle, being Suntory Old with the Year of the Rat label.


The Ox

Years: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, and 2021.

The Ox is the second animal in the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese more or less agree with the West on the essential characteristics of the beast. Oxen are diligent, dependable, strong and patient animals; they are also honest and tend to value family, work, and country, above all else. They are a no-nonsense beings, respecting traditional values. Because of this, the ox is often successful in life, and you know you can depend on them. However, their downside is that this no-nonsense character does not make for a great communicator; hence, they can be stubborn and difficult in certain situations.

We at dekantā currently have two ox bottles, and both of them look awesome. The first one is a rare bottle from Nikka’s zodiac series that will look good in any collection! The second one which just arrived and is one of our favorites already is from Suntory.


The Tiger

Years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, and 2022.

This is an animal that everybody likes. Tigers sure are beautiful big kitties, but they can be dangerous; the same goes for people born in the Year of the Tiger, who are known to be brave, competitive, unpredictable, and self-confident. Like their animal counterparts, those born in this year tend to be charming, and also a bit high-handed, preferring to play things by the ear, which usually works out well for them. Although they make inspiring leaders, they can also be slightly difficult to control and overly arrogant. Tigers are not the sort of animals you’d like to have as enemies; the same applies with their human counterparts, who can be extremely competitive to the point of being downright annoying at times.

Currently, dekantā has a single Year of the Tiger bottle as this nice bottle recently sold out, but rest assured, we are always quick to grab one when we find it!


The Rabbit

Years: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Rabbits are renowned for being pleasant animals; they are gentle, quiet, elegant, and alert, as well as being quick, skillful and kind.

Most people born in the Year of the Rabbit are kind in nature; they tend to be smiling and polite, and are faithful, too. They are also introverts, – so introvert, in fact, that people often complain that it is difficult to gauge what they really are thinking. Those born in this year do, however, tend to miss out on good things in life, due to their cautious and conservative attitude, being quite unwilling to take risks or go on adventures.

Currently, we at dekantā have this rabbit bottle. The white porcelain bottle, popular with our customers, is currently out of stock; it is, however, a part of the whole collection.


The Dragon

Years: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

The dragon differs from other animals in the zodiac calendar in the sense that it is a mythical creature, rather than an animal in existence! You could argue that we have the Komodo dragon, but we are quite certain that’s not what the ancient Chinese had in mind. It is also the most vital and powerful of all the zodiac beasts. Bravery and intelligence defines the dragon, as well as being enthusiastic and cocksure of itself; it does, though, have the tendency to get ahead of itself and it can and a bit of a hothead, and even aggressive. Calming an angry dragon is not for the faint hearted.

We currently have this, this and this bottle with the dragon displayed on it.


The Snake

Year: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

The snake has not been a very popular creature in Western tradition. Ever since it fooled Eve into eating an apple in the Garden of Eden, people have suspected the poor thing of mischief. In China, however, just as with the rat, people have a more generous views on the snake. Chinese people see it as an intuitive and self-reliant animal, acting in accordance with its own judgments; snakes are ambitious and tend to be intelligent and wise. In fact, many philosophers and artists have been born in the Year of the Snake. They are also loners in the sense that they dislike large crowds and need time to recharge their batteries. In certain situations, they can also become slightly paranoid.

A snake bottle arrived to us at dekantā this weekend! Also, check out the whole Suntory collection.


The Horse

Years: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Active an energetic, those born in the Year of the Horse love to socialize with people and show off, too. They are easygoing and usually have tons of friends. They can, however, be a little self-centered – even obsessed with themselves. People generally find them charismatic and likable.

We have three horses here at dekantā, this one is our favorite, and then there is this one, and this one!


The Sheep

Years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Gentle, mild mannered and shy are words that arise when describing people born in the Year of the Sheep. They also tend to be kindhearted and sympathetic towards other people’s troubles. Although gentle on the surface, they are tough on the inside. The goat is part of a group of animals who dislike too much attention. Those born in this year are known to like whisky, and we at dekantā have amassed a large collection of bottles from the Year of the Sheep!


The Monkey

Years: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

2016 is the Year of the Money! This makes it the perfect time to indulge in monkey whisky! Monkeys are known to be flexible, intelligent, confident, charismatic, inventive, and extremely fun to be around. Individuals born in this year tend to do well at work and be loaded with money, but they do have their weaknesses, including arrogance and snobbery.

Those born in the Year of the Monkey are predicted to be extremely lucky in the year of 2016; their career prospects are promising, and their love life is expected to be extremely positive, too.

We at dekantā have two few monkeys, this one, and this one!


The Rooster

Year: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

The Year of the Rooster is coming up in just 11 months, so what are you waiting for? Start stocking up on rooster whisky now!

In all seriousness, roosters are said to be observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented. Those born in the Year of the Rooster are known as often being very active, talkative and frank; they do not shy away from letting people hear what they think. They also like to be at the center of attention and have a reputation for being party animals. Roosters are very confident about themselves and love bragging about their accomplishments, which can annoy certain types of people who find them to be fairly over the top. Compared to many other animals, however, this is a small bug to bear.

Our porcelain rooster bottle also happens to be one of our favorite zodiac bottles, as it looks fantastic! And then there is this one!


The Dog

Years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Dogs are loyal, honest, amiable and kind. In this case, the Chinese and the West are in agreement. They are incredibly faithful and ready to do almost anything for the people that they love, even to the point of hurting themselves.

They are on the other hand not outstanding communicators, which can give the impression that they are stubborn. They can become slightly pessimistic when not treated well, soon getting depressed. But there is no one in the world that you would rather have as a friend than a dog. Currently, we have only a single dog bottle in stock.


The Pig

Year: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

The final zodiac animal is the pig. The East and the West have very different conceptions of this animal. While mostly associated with dirt in the West, Easterners see them as diligent, compassionate, and generous creatures.

Pigs are the kind of animals (and people) that never give up on their assignment; they handle things calmly and are excellent to work with. Their weakness is, perhaps, that they tend to be too positive towards the world. They don’t like trickery and as they don’t trick others, they believe that others should not do this either. Unfortunately, not everybody in the world are as nice as pigs.

Our boar bottles have become quite popular with customers and we are looking into acquiring some more. Currently, we have this one on the offers.

The zodiac bottles tend to sell out fast, so, if you see one you like but we don’t have in stock, contact us and we will do our best to find it for you!

Henry Baldvin