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Yamazaki was the first whisky distillery set up in Japan in 1923 near Kyoto. It was set up by Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory (one of largest drinks companies in the world). The international appeal of these whiskies has grown significantly over the last few years, winning international awards and plaudits for their age-statement releases.
Japan has no rules for the regulation of making whisky and is therefore a bit trickier to follow. In general it is very similar in style to Scotch whisky. Most whiskies produced are blended but each company runs a discrete operation, owning their distillery and brands outright. There are nine active distilleries in Japan at the moment, spread across the country, but the most popular are Yamazaki and Hibiki, both owned by Suntory Group who also own Chateau Beychevelle and Chateau Lagrange in Bordeaux. Currently, the most sought-after brand from Japan is Karuizawa which was opened in 1955 and dismantled in 2006.