Suntory has secured a listing with Sainsbury to stock a 700ml bottle (rsp: £24) of the 10-year-old Yamazaki - the name of a region in Japan famous for its whisky production - and a miniature bottle of its 12-year-old variant as part of a festive Whiskies of the World gift pack.
“This is the top-selling single malt whisky in Japan and we now want to expand our presence in the UK,” said Suntory spokesman Tomo Akiake. “If sales through Sainsbury are successful then we hope to secure listings in other outlets.”
Japanese whisky uses the same raw materials and production processes as Scotch whisky, said Akiake, but the differences in the environment and water source give it a light and mellow flavour suited to accompany the subtle flavours of Japanese cuisine.
The 12-year-old variant has a balance of flavours from three different oak barrel types: American, Spanish and Japanese.
Suntory is Japan’s biggest drinks producer and while it has a relatively small presence outside of Asia it has big expansion plans.
Earlier this year it announced it had signed a deal with vodka producer Blavod to create joint venture company Diamante.
The company will initially operate only in the United States, focusing on high growth segments of the market such as premium vodka, tequila, rum and gin.