It's time to savour the world's oldest Japanese whisky

The House of Suntory releases its highly anticipated Yamazaki 55 Year Old – the world’s oldest Japanese whisky

Suntory’s Yamazaki 55 Year old Japanese whisky
(Image credit: press)

The 1960s were a notably creative and exciting decade in which many good things were born, including Suntory’s Yamazaki 55 Year Old whisky – the oldest in its history.

The House of Suntory has now released its highly anticipated blend of unique and exquisite single malts. Yamazaki 55 is a whisky whose journey began during the 1960s under the supervision of Suntory’s founder Shinjiro Torii, who built the Yamazaki Distillery in 1923. It stands as Japan’s first and oldest distillery, and is the birthplace of Japanese whisky.

Suntory’s factory in Japan which makes Yamazaki 55 Year old whisky

The House of Suntory Distillery 

(Image credit: press)

The distillery is nestled in a misty valley at the foot of Mount Tennozan near Kyoto, where the region’s humidity and diverse temperatures, and the exceptionally high-quality mineral water, create the perfect conditions for the making of fine whisky.

Japanese whisky: delicacy, balance and complexity

Japanese distillers follow the Scottish standard for whisky production, but they tread their own path and have their own ways. The unique Japanese whisky palate has three main requirements: delicacy, balance, and complexity.

Suntory’s Yamazaki 55 Year old Japanese whisky

(Image credit: press)

Chief blender Shinji Fukuyo worked closely with third-generation master blender Shingo Torii, and with their art and wisdom, created a complex spirit of extraordinary depth and splendour.

The deep amber colour is distinctive of the Japanese Mizunara oak casks in which it is first aged; Mizunara is much scarcer and more expensive than European or American oak, and tricky to work with, but skilfully used, it imparts exquisite nuances of flavour. Yamazaki 55 offers notes of sandalwood and ripe tropical fruit; the finish is slightly bitter, yet sweet, rich and smooth, with some lingering smoky peat.

Suntory’s founder Shinjiro Torii with glass of Yamazaki 55 Year old whisky

The House of Suntory’s chief blender Shinji Fukuyo with glass of Yamazaki 55 Year Old whisky

(Image credit: press)

Did we mention that Yamazaki 55 is a rare whisky? Presented in an engraved crystal bottle whose neck is wrapped in handmade Echizen washi paper and bound with Kyo Kumihimo braided cord (a traditional Kyoto craft), only 200 bottles exist worldwide, each retailing at $60,000. It is rare indeed, and a fitting tribute to the legacy of the founding family of Japanese whisky.


Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms