Suntory began in 1899 when Shinjiro Torii founded the Torii Shoten store in Osaka. Over the next decade he developed a range of aged Japanese spirits, but also dreamed of creating an original Japanese whisky. In 1923 he realised that dream when he founded the Yamazaki Distillery, Japan’s first single malt whisky distillery on the outskirts of Kyoto. By 1937 Suntory was well established, and Japan''s love affair with whisky had begun. In 1973 Shinjiro''s son Keizo Saji decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Japanese whisky-making and push the boundaries of Japanese whisky, building the Hakushu Distillery - in the following decades Suntory has added the Single Malt Yamazaki 1984, Suntory Hibiki in 1989, followed by the Single Malt Hakushu in 1994.
Pronounced ''Hack-shoo'', meaning ''white sand bar'', Hakushu West distillery opened in 1973, in a dense forest at the foot of Mount Kaikomagatake in the southern Japanese Alps near the town of Hokuto in Yamanashi Prefecture. The altitude high and cool climate lend a refreshing and crisp character. In 1981 a new distillery was built: known as Hakushu East, this is now the main production site, with twelve stills of varying shapes and are all directly heated by coal fires, it produces a wide range of whiskies. The Hakushu distillery is blessed with a very particular microclimate, luxurious forests, and water offering a rare softness and purity, only made possible by filtration of rain and snow through thousand-year-old granite rocks. Production is very traditional, and uses lightly peated barley, double distillation in pot stills, followed by maturation in a combination of American oak, used Sherry and Japanese Mizunara oak casks.