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On 1st February 1899, Shinjiro Torii opened a store in Osaka, he named it the Kotobukiya Liqour Shop. Shinjori had a passion for Western drinks and began importing Spanish wines. The Japanese drinks market was largely centred on sake and shochu and the majority of Japanese consumers found Western beverages rather disagreeable. 1907 saw the release of Akadama Port Wine, a sweetened red wine which Shinjiro had created after experimenting flavouring and sweetening Spanish wines. Three years later, the Kotobukiya Company’s products were marketed for their medicinal value. Various other products were sold including spices, teas and various grocery items.
Shinjiro Torii greatly enjoyed Scotch whisky and his dream was to set up the first whisky distillery in Japan. In 1923, his dream was realized with the founding of the Yamazaki Distillery in the Vale of Yamazaki. The distillery was set in a beautiful location just outside of Kyoto. There was a varied climate as well as pure waters and a good humidity. Yamazaki single malt is now Japan’s most popular and the range of Suntory products has been greatly expanded to include foods and beverages, both intoxicating and otherwise.