‘Japan's Dynamic Climate Escalates Whisky Maturation'
Forbes India|December 4, 2020
Shinji Fukuyo, chief blender of Beam Suntory, talks about the natural and traditional elements that lend Japanese whiskies their uniqueness
Jasodhara Banerjee

Following the launch of the House of Suntory portfolio in India last December, Japanese whisky makers Beam Suntory has now launched its latest blend, Toki, meaning ‘time’. According to Japan’s traditional methods of blending whiskies, grain whiskies act as ‘dashi’ and are meant to accentuate the flavours of malts. Inspired by the wide variety of grain whiskies that are produced in Suntory’s Chita distillery, Shinji Fukuyo, the fourth chief blender at Suntory, reimagined its role and produced this new blend that is a balance of subtlety and refinement. In an interview with Forbes India, Fukuyo, who was born in Nagoya in 1961 and began his career at the Hakushu distillery by joining Suntory in 1984, talks about what sets Japanese whisky apart from Scotch, and how it has evolved over the years. Edited excerpts:

Q What are the most distinguishing features of Japanese whisky?

Japanese whisky is deep, mature, subtle, well-balanced, refined yet complex. We try to produce quality whisky at each distillery with detailed Japanese craftsmanship. In Japan, we have pure and clean water, and a unique climate with hot and humid summers and cold and dry winters. The harmony between Japanese craftsmanship and Japanese nature creates the distinctive characteristics of Japanese whisky. In addition, blending requires various types of component whiskies, and the two types of malt whiskies distilled at Yamazaki and Hakushu are not enough. Therefore, the distilleries are making great efforts to make various types of whiskies in a single distillery by using different distilling malts and yeasts, installing pot stills that have different sizes and shapes, ageing whisky in casks of different woods and so on. This diversity of whisky-making is also our unique craftsmanship.

Q What are the differences in the natural elements between Japan and Scotland that make Japanese whisky distinct from Scotch?

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