Against the backdrop of the Japanese Meiji Era, a period of rapid modernization during which Japan opened its eyes to the West for inspiration, young Shinjiro grew into an enterpreneur, maker and doer.
The sophistication of Western wines and spirits -their cultural depth and wealth, rituals and savoir faire-inspired Shinjiro.
He set out to introduce that culture to the Japanese people through the sale of Western wines. Yet, as Shinjiro worked tirelessly to educate and develop the people’s appreciation for Western wines, he learned that this was a difficult challenge.
Shinjiro met this challenge by creating something unique. Instead of relying on already existent wines, he learned to blend wines in order to develop a flavour profile adapted to the subtle Japanese palate.
Obsessively mixing and layering tastes and aromas, he cultivated his skills as a craftsman of liquor. The result: the Akadama Port Wine*-a fortified wine made with Spanish wine. The launch of Akadama Port Wine with its iconic “advertising” in 1907 marked Shinjiro Torii’s first success-and made him crave more.
He wanted not only to blend imported liquors, but develop quintessentially Japanese spirits for his people. Shinjiro dreamed of crafting an authenic Japanese whisky, which would become a turning point for the House of Suntory. To make that dream a reality, he started the construction of Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in Yamazaki, in the outskirts of Kyoto, in 1923.
Inspired by the riches of Japanese Nature, he chose the region for its reputed soft water, unique climate and distinct seasons-all of which would contribute to the distinctive Japanese character of Suntory whiskies.
Though Shinjiro is most known for his creation of Japanese whisky, he also applied his challenger’s spirit and “Monozukuri” craftsmanship to producing other spirits as well. That passion laid the foundation for the House of Suntory and Shinjiro’s legacy.
His family continuously pushed Shinjiro’s vision with the same challenging spirit, applying the philosophy of “Yatte Minahare” (Go for it) to challenge market conventions and introduce innovative quality spirits for the world.
Today, that continues to be his grandson Shingo Torii’s mission. The House of Suntory now represents a House of Japanese culture-a rich cultural experience and pilgrimage to Japan in every bottle, ready to be discovered by the world.