Suntory’s Osaka Factory was built in 1919 to make the company’s premier product at the time, Akadama Port Wine. In 2019, it celebrated its 100th anniversary. Japanese Craft Gin ROKU and other spirits and liqueurs are made here.
Header image: The Osaka Factory is divided into Plant 1 and Plant 2, and Plant 2 here has the liqueur and spirits workshop. Plant 1 houses the continuous still.
Images: Hiroshi Shibuya
Text: Mamoru Tsuchiya
Translation: Whiskey Richard
This article originally appeared in Japanese in Whisky Galore Vol.13 / April 2019.
A gathering of technique and expertise in crafting spirits
Suntory’s Japanese Craft Gin ROKU was released in 2017. Thanks to its popularity, sales in the first half of 2018 were reportedly double those of 2017. In 2019’s “Annual Brands Report” from Drinks International magazine, it was ranked the #5 brand in the Gin division. The quality of ROKU is being recognized overseas as well.
ROKU is a product of the “Spirits & Liqueur Workshop” at Suntory’s Osaka Factory. The facility is special because it features four different types of pot stills. The oldest is from the UK’s John Dore, a pot still made in 1957.
With ROKU for example, the backbone of gin, juniper berries, are seeped in grain spirit then distilled on a copper still twice. Yuzu, one of the other botanicals, is distilled at atmosphere on a copper still. But sakura, a different botanical, undergoes vacuum distillation on a stainless steel still. Blending these together produces the delicate yet complex character of ROKU.
Looking to continue for another 100 years, Suntory’s Osaka Factory today continues to make alcohol, just as it has for the past century.
Mamoru Tsuchiya is Japan’s foremost whisky critic. He is the Representative Director of the Japan Whisky Research Centre, and was named one of the “World’s Best Five Whisky Writers” by Highland Distillers in 1998. He served as the whisky historian for NHK’s Massan and he has published several books such as The Complete Guide to Single Malt Whisky, Taketsuru’s Life and Whisky, and The Literacy of Whisky. He is the editor of the bimonthly Whisky Galore, Japan’s only print whisky magazine.