Ao mixed whisky, signed by Suntory, will change the global industry

April 16, 2019 corresponds to the release of Suntory’s very first mixed whisky. Called Ao, it means blue in Japanese to describe the colour of the ocean that connects the five largest whisky regions in the world. The new blend will include liquid from distilleries located in the five largest whisky-producing regions in the world, namely Scotland, Japan, Ireland, Canada and the United States. This new whisky will first be launched in Japan, for 5000 yen per bottle, or just under 50 US dollars.

Although many people do not realize it, this expression comes at a crucial time for the Japanese whisky industry. Throughout 2018, the domestic whisky market was flooded with expressions including imported whisky, which were labelled as Japanese whisky. This is possible because of the absence of regulations in Japan concerning the manufacture of whisky. Companies are allowed to import whisky from other countries, add it to a drum with a few drops of whisky made in Japan, then bottle and label it as Japanese whisky. In view of the growing popularity of this category worldwide, many companies have jumped at the opportunity and created their own version of the fake “Japanese whisky“.

As the largest whisky producer in Japan, Suntory will probably push more and more producers to do the same. Let us hope that those who continue to mislead drinkers will be criticized for their lack of transparency and will have no choice but to change their habits.

Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.