Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii was already something of a spirits globalist by 1923 -- he’d been importing Western wines and liquors for nearly a quarter of a century, and had created a sweet-grape cocktail inspired by Lisbon Port in 1907. But that was the year, with the construction of Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery in Osaka, that Torii authored what might be the single most significant turning point in the modern biography of whisky.

Yamazaki was something new entirely: its copper pot stills were the first of their kind outside of Scotland; its master distiller, Masatak Taketsuru, was born in Hiroshima but studied organic chemistry in Glasgow and learned to make whisky in the then-thriving Cambeltown distilleries. But Torii’s ambition – and Taketsuru’s, too – was deeply rooted in that hyper-productive nationalist vanity so ordinary to incubating Empires. If Scotland can create great Scotch, well, so can Japan. Thus was more-or-less born the notion of Scotch-style whisky.