Waitrose looks set to be the first off-trade retailer to stock a Japanese vodka, following last year’s milestone when it was the first to list a Japanese gin. 

Haku Japanese Vodka is created from Japanese ingredients by the master artisans at the House of Suntory, which is described as “the founding house of Japanese whisky”.

Haku is the sister brand to Suntory’s Roku Gin, which hit the market in February last year, securing an early listing in Waitrose. Haku Vodka was created at the same time as Roku but first went into the US market. 

Edrington Beam Suntory UK (EBS) announced earlier this year that it planned to bring the vodka over to the UK to add to its House of Suntory collection of premium spirits that are designed to reflect the nature and flavours of Japan.

The premium spirit is made from 100% Japanese white rice. The meticulous process to mill and polish the rice is said to attribute to its mild and subtly sweet flavour.

The process begins in Japan’s Kyushu region (an area historically famous for rice spirit making) where white rice is fermented with koji rice to create a mash. The mash is then distilled through pot stills to create a rice spirit. It is then distilled for a second time through two different processes in a pot still and column still to create a “uniquely flavoured” liquid.

This liquid is then blended and filtered through bamboo charcoal in Osaka, Japan. This process, unique to Suntory, preserves and enhances the rice’s delicately sweet and subtle flavours, according to the producer.

Nick Ganich, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK head of brands for Beam Suntory, said: “The launch of this new vodka creates great opportunity for craft spirits enthusiasts to discover new tastes and experiences that further embody Suntory founder Shinjoro Torii’s vision of a challenge and quest for excellence.”

Haku Vodka has already secured listings in leading UK bars and restaurants such as Nobu, The Ritz and Roka.

It will be on shelf in Waitrose from May 27, at a retail price of £35 for a 70cl bottle.

Kazuyuki Torii, Suntory Specialist for Gin and Spirits, said: “This unique vodka was developed from a vision to create a truly authentic Japanese product that meets the demand for a meticulously crafted vodka with a distinct and balanced taste.”

The vodka can be served neat, on the rocks of in the Haku-Hi, which is made by adding chilled soda water and lemon peel.