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House of Suntory advocacy programme returns

Hibiki producer House of Suntory’s Dojo advocacy programme will return for its fourth year this month, with a UK tour of educational sessions.

House of Suntory Dojo
House of Suntory’s Dojo masterclasses will begin this month

In the brand’s centenary year, the programme will host masterclasses in London, as well as Edinburgh and Manchester for the first time, as part of its mission to ‘deepen bartenders’ understanding of the philosophies behind the art of Japanese bartending’.

Raffaele di Monaco, UK brand ambassador for the House of Suntory, said: “The Japanese approach to bartending is unlike anything else. From the laser focus on detail, to embracing omotenashi (to ‘wholeheartedly look after guests’) and monozukuri (‘craftsmanship and striving towards perfection’), the collective approach elevates bartending to an art form.

“Through the Dojo programme, we hope to bring these principles to the fore, and help bartenders enhance their repertoires as well as being able to offer unparalleled drink and hospitality experiences for their customers.”

The expansion of the programme this year will enable 100 bartenders to learn about Japanese bartending and gain insights directly from Japanese craft masters and hospitality industry leaders, which can be applied to ‘strengthen any hospitality career’.

Devised as an immersive experience, this year’s programme will be led by Di Monaco alongside ‘authentic’ Japanese masters of craft, and will consist of two ‘tours’ in July and September.

Each tour will feature two monozukuri masterclasses, which will aim to help deepen attendees’ understanding of the brand’s portfolio.

Each masterclass tour will focus on two of its four core brands; the first tour on Roku gin and Haku vodka, followed by Toki and Hibiki whiskies in the second.

Kaizen Challenge

The programme will also include a ‘Kaizen Challenge’, inspired by the concept of Kaizen, which means ‘continual improvement’.

This challenge has been designed to encourage participants to hone their newfound skills by applying them to a classic cocktail. Four of the best bartenders from each city will win a place at the Dojo finale in November where they will present their Kaizen Classic to judges James Bowker, The House of Suntory’s global advocacy manager, and bar master Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five in Tokyo.

They will be competing for the chance to win a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip to Japan in spring 2024.

In addition, the 12 Dojo finalists will also be invited to two community events in October to immerse them in Japanese culture with sessions on Japanese knife sharpening and a Kanpai Sake Brewery tour.

As part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to fostering the bartending community, there will also be several Japanese inspired Dojo mini events in London locations throughout the year.

More information on Dojo can be found at

Last month, House of Suntory celebrated its 100 year anniversary with the launch of Hakushu 18 Years Old Peated Malt and an 18-year-old Yamazaki whisky aged in mizunara oak casks.

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