Legendary Japanese drinks manufacturer House of Suntory are celebrating their 100 year anniversary with the release of two limited edition whiskies from their reputed single malt distilleries.

To mark the milestone year, two 18 Year Olds will be released: a mizunara matured expression from Yamazaki and a peated variation from Hakushu.

Suntory was founded in 1923 when the Yamazaki distillery was built near Kyoto. The first Suntory whisky was released in 1929 using whisky produced at the distillery, and the brand took off through the 1930s and beyond to the point that Suntory soon became the premier name in Japanese spirits.

Yamazaki was Japan’s first single malt whisky distillery, though their first generally available single malt wasn’t released until 1984. Nevertheless, it’s fitting that the distillery that started it all is involved in the celebrations.

The Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara is bottled at 48% ABV and offers notes of dark cherries and ripe peaches on the nose, with a subtly spicy palate and a long, warming finish. House of Suntory pioneered the use of native Japanese mizunara oak to mature whisky in the 1940s. This process was overseen by Shinjiro Torii and Keizo Saji; the former was also essential in setting up Yamazaki, while the latter establishing Hakushu.

Hakushu Distillery was founded in 1973 and was purposely built to craft a variety of styles of whisky to help meet the demands of the Suntory brand. While much of the distillery’s output was (and still is) destined for blending, Hakushu was introduced to the market as a single malt in 1993 and remains a firm favourite among fans of Japanese whisky decades later.

The Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated promises “a new angle to the world of peated whisky” - the distinctly smoky aroma complementing, not dominating the traditional Japanese character of the whisky. Using peated malt from the UK, some of which was heavily peated, the spirit was crafted at Hakushu distillery before maturing in a range different sized refill American oak barrels.

This release is also bottled at 48% ABV and highlights aromas of sage and ripe pineapple before herbal, smoky and honeyed notes come through. Drinkers can expect more clean smoke and a green citrus bite on the finish.

Both whiskies will be available through selected specialist retailers, with the Hakushu and Yamazaki having RRPs of £1,275 and £1,600 respectively.

These releases come after Suntory has invested around US$77 million in both distilleries. Yamazaki and Hakushu have recently been closed for renovation and are due to reopen imminently.

In addition to these two whiskies, House of Suntory will also release limited edition variations of the Yamazaki and Hakushu 12 Year Old expressions. Each will feature unique labels that pay homage to the distilleries; the Yamazaki label will depict the distillery in deep copper, while the Hakushu label honours the forest surrounding the distillery with soft green tones.

As part of the centenary celebrations, Suntory have also worked with filmmaker Sofia Coppola and actor Keanu Reeves to launch a celebratory advertising campaign. The tribute video is a montage of iconic Suntory adverts of the past, and a forthcoming docu-series will explore the heritage, craftsmanship and ethos of the Suntory brand.

New releases from both Hakushu and Yamazaki are quick to sell out, but if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one of the anniversary bottles, you too can join us in raising a glass to Suntory’s centenary - here’s to 100 more.