Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association Adopts Whisky Labeling Standards, Applauded by The House of Suntory


The House of Suntory welcomes the voluntary designation of ‘Japanese Whisky’ established by the Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association (JSLMA) which will usher in a new era of transparency within the industry that champions the culture and craftsmanship that have vaulted Japanese Whisky to the top of the whisky world.

In 2021, JSLMA announced a new set of standards to curb the spread of products misleadingly labelled as ‘Japanese Whisky.’ Labelling standards were enacted on April 1, 2021, with a three-year transition period for members of the association to comply. This action was an important first step toward protecting authentic Japanese Whisky, which has grown into one of the most prestigious spirits categories in the world.

As the founding house and pioneer of Japanese Whisky, The House of Suntory confirmed that it will continue to take a leadership role in protecting and increasing awareness for the category through ongoing consumer and trade education initiatives about what properly constitutes a Japanese Whisky.

Since the establishment of the Yamazaki Distillery — Japan’s oldest malt whisky distillery — in 1923, The House of Suntory has been crafting award-winning spirits such as Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Hibiki whiskies and played a pivotal role in elevating the category to new heights. The House of Suntory is proud to confirm that all exported Suntory Japanese Whisky products are 100% distilled, matured, and bottled in Japan and compliant with the new production and labelling standards. The brands include The Yamazaki Single Malt Japanese Whisky, The Hakushu Single Malt Japanese Whisky, The Chita Single Grain Japanese Whisky, Hibiki Blended Japanese Whisky, Toki Blended Japanese Whisky, and Suntory Whisky “Kakubin” Blended Japanese Whisky.

“As a pioneer and leading company dedicated to authenticity, we believe the designation will help uphold the integrity of and further vitalize the category. This is a milestone not just for Suntory, but for our entire industry, as well as being a great day for whisky lovers globally,” shares the President of The House of Suntory, Masaki Morimoto. “Suntory is proud to be one of the producers for whom all of their officially exported whiskies available are 100% compliant. Tradition, quality, and innovation are at the heart of everything we do, and we are proud to continue showcasing these through artful distilling and blending.”

With its rapidly growing popularity, a broad range of whiskies have come to market without an agreed definition of Japanese Whisky, which has led to uncertainty among whisky drinkers about the provenance of some of the spirits they enjoy. Respected international competitions are already adhering to the new JSLMA standard with the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and International Spirits Challenge aligning their definitions for Japanese Whisky.

The House of Suntory believes that these guidelines preserve the creative liberties that have allowed Japanese Whisky distillers to innovate and continuously improve their offerings, while ensuring that all whiskies labelled Japanese Whisky are produced there to safeguard the integrity of the category.

To achieve the designation of Japanese Whisky, a brand must uphold the following:


Water used in production must be extracted in Japan.


Saccharification, fermentation, and distillation must be carried out at a distillery in Japan.


Must be distilled to less than 95% ABV.


Spirits must be aged in wooden casks (of no more than 700 litres) in Japan for a minimum of three years.


Bottling must take place in Japan.


Bottled spirit must be at least 40% ABV.


Plain caramel coloring (E150) can be used.


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