October 3, 2018
More Than Meets the Eye: The Thought Behind Suntory's Iconic Whisky Bottles
Around the world, consumers recognize the House of Suntory whisky not only for its unique taste and quality, but also for its distinct, detailed, and beautiful bottles. Suntory originally started its whisky business with the aim of creating an authentic Japanese whisky to match the Japanese palate. Driven by this purpose, the tastes and aromas of Suntory whisky were heavily influenced by Japanese culture, and as a result, both the whisky itself and the bottle design are based on a combination of Japan's nature, craftsmanship, and tastes.
The calligraphy characters, one of the most iconic features of a Suntory whisky bottle, have become a symbol of both Suntory whisky and Japanese whisky at-large. On a Suntory bottle, the calligraphy is artfully designed to express the product's uniqueness and convey a portion of Japanese tradition. Yamazaki, Hibiki, and Hakushu, some of our most well-known Suntory Japanese premium whiskies, all feature calligraphy on the labels.
Yamazaki's label centers around bold Japanese writing, written by former master blender Keizo Saji, the father of Yamazaki. The right half of the character for "zaki" forms the character for "kotobuki," which means "congratulations" in Japanese and is meant to celebrate Yamazaki as the launch of our first Japanese shingle malt whisky. The word is also used in honor of Suntory's original company name, "Kotobuki-ya," to represent the passion passed down from the company's founding.
Hakushu, a fresh and gently smoky single malt whisky, showcases a bottle that is based on the blue-green colors of the Mountain Forest Distillery where the whisky is produced.
Hibiki, a harmonious blended whisky made to reflect our corporate philosophy - "To create harmony with people and nature" - features a bottle full of Japanese tradition, as seen through the label made of "Echizen washi*" paper and adorned with the Japanese character "hibiki", meaning "harmony" in Japanese, in calligraphy. The 24 facets of the Hibiki bottle symbolize the 24 hours of the day and 24 seasons- or "Sekki"** of the traditional Japanese calendar. The bottle includes 24 sides to allow consumers to visualize the time the whisky spends aging in the cask, the history, and 'time' itself.
The mastermind behind many of Suntory's iconic Yamazaki and Hibiki whisky bottles, Akiko Furusho, describes the process of creating a perfect bottle of whisky as entirely integrated - from the inception of the idea to the moment of consumption. When developing a new Suntory whisky, the designers, marketers, and whisky blenders come together as a single team, which ensures a sense of consistency throughout the look and feel of all Suntory whisky brands.
*Washi is traditional Japanese paper handcrafted out of local fibers in Japan, typically from Kozo and Mitsumata . Echizen-washi is well known for its 1,500 years of history and famous high quality.
**Sekki is a traditional way of expressing the 24 different seasons in Japan.