House of Suntory toasts centenary with campaign starring Keanu Reeves

By Faye Bartle |

House of Suntory 100th anniversary

House of Suntory is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023.

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, The House of Suntory has released a special tribute created by Academy Award winning director Sofia Coppola and featuring A-list actor Keanu Reeves, alongside a collection of new limited-edition whiskies.

The ‘Founding House of Japanese Whisky’ has pulled out all the stops to mark its 100-year heritage.

Twenty years after filming Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola returned to Japan to create the special Suntory Anniversary Tribute film, which honours Suntory’s past, present and future.

It tells the story of the brand’s heritage and whisky-making legacy over the last century, and features actor Keanu Reeves (a fan of the brand who previously appeared in a Suntory Reserve advertising campaign in 1992).

The film had a debut screening on 23 May during the Suntory Time 100th Anniversary Global Premiere event in New York City and is now available to view on the House of Suntory website.

“As the pioneer of Japanese whisky, the House of Suntory played a significant role in shaping culture and leading craftsmanship in Japan over the last century,” said Jon Potter, Managing Director of House of Suntory.

“To mark this historic milestone, partnering with Sofia and Keanu, who are Suntory Whisky fans, makes perfect sense. From our Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo’s striking blends to Sofia and Keanu’s unique cinematic creations, this commemoration has surpassed all expectations to celebrate our iconic Japanese whiskies.”

House of Suntory 100th anniversary

To mark the occasion, the House of Suntory is releasing several limited-edition whiskies, including Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara and Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt whiskies.

Later this summer, Reeves will star in another creative project in partnership with the House: a series of documentary shorts titled: ‘The Nature and Spirit of Japan’, directed by Roman Coppola.

The series explores Japanese whisky culture inspired by harmony with nature (Wa), elevated by Japanese craftsmanship (Monozukuri) and enjoyed as an authentic Japanese cultural experience (Omotenashi).

The docuseries will ‘strike a balance between education and entertainment, aiming to foster a deeper exploration of the House of Suntory and Japanese culture overall’, according to the company.

House of Suntory 100th anniversary

Reeves will also star in a series of documentary shorts in collaboration with the House of Suntory, later this summer.

“I’m honoured to partner with Suntory Whisky again thirty years after our Suntory Reserve campaign,” said Keanu Reeves. “I’m a huge fan of Suntory Whisky, so it’s very special to collaborate in honour of this milestone anniversary.

“My admiration for the whisky goes beyond tasting the whisky. It is the elevated Japanese craftsmanship and attention to every detail that makes Suntory Whisky so special.

“As an actor honing and perfecting my own craft, sharing this process in a docuseries is a thrill.”

A grand travel retail roll-out

Also for the 100th anniversary, the House of Suntory is releasing several limited-edition whiskies, including Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara and Hakushu 18 Year Old Peated Malt whiskies, which highlight the Japanese craftsmanship at Suntory’s whisky distilleries and their ‘meticulous’ art of blending.

Limited 100th anniversary labels of the flagship Yamazaki 12 Year Old and Hakushu 12 Year Old are also being released for the centennial.

These limited editions will be available in selected GTR airport doors from mid-June, supported by a series of immersive pop-up activations and high-profile advertising campaigns.

The debut, hero activation will take place at Singapore Changi T1 departures, from 15 June to 25 July, in partnership with Lotte Duty Free Singapore.

The installation will incorporate tastings, interactive digital activities and exclusive anniversary gifts.

The limited-edition anniversary whiskies will also be available at Shanghai Pudong, Dubai International, Delhi Indira Gandhi International, and London Heathrow Airport. Activations at these locations will take place from July onwards.

House of Suntory 100th anniversary

Yamazaki Mizunara Aged 18 Years single malt Japanese whisky.

“This centennial is a truly a milestone achievement, and we are very much looking forward to collaborating with our travel retail partners to mark this accomplishment,” said Beam Suntory Brand Marketing Director Global Travel Retail Manuel Gonzalez.

“Together, we will really bring the celebrations to life, through our planned programme of distinctive airport activations, designed to showcase the very special 100th anniversary editions of these exceptional Japanese whiskies and the art of Japanese whisky.”

“Hakushu and Yamazaki whiskies are gifts from our past handed down by generations,”added Fifth Generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo.

“It is fitting to release limited editions as part of this incredible milestone, as they represent our relentless pursuit of quality and symbolise our promise to carry our philosophy on for the next one hundred years and beyond.”

The House of Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery was established 1923 and today wears the crown as Japan’s ‘first and oldest malt whisky distillery’.

The vision was to create an original Japanese whisky ‘blessed with the riches of Japanese nature and craftsmanship’ – a sentiment that the grandson of the founder champions today at its distilleries across the country.

Spirits in the portfolio include Yamazaki, Hakushu, Chita, Kakubin, Hibiki, Suntory Whisky Toki and Ao, as well as Roku Gin and Haku Vodka.

The House of Suntory is investing 10 billion JPY (US$$77 million) to enhance its Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries, which are currently closed for renovation and scheduled to reopen in autumn.

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