Japan has been in a whisky “highball” boom for at least the last couple of years or so, if not longer, spurned on by the big makers like Suntory. There are “highball” bars and highball-focused izakayas and restaurants in Tokyo’s oyaji havens, and canned highball drinks seem quite popular.
Being a beer drinker primarily, I didn’t pay much thought. But I’ve been trying for the last year to “get into” Scotch after going to a Scotch society event in 2011, with moderate success (actually very little, a lot of it tastes “the same” to me which is a sure sign of failure). After reading the highball can post linked above, recently I asked my wife to pick me up a couple of the highball cans, and although it didn’t really seem to tickle my fancy, I was intrigued enough to buy a bottle of Suntory that came with a tumbler this past weekend – I figured at least this way I could pay around 75 yen per highball drink instead of the 150 yen the cans cost. And lo and behold, I’m liking what I’m drinking!
Mind you, Suntory’s packaging recommends a 4:1 ratio, and mine is more like 2:1! But this metallic tumbler really keeps the damn thing cold with very little ice-melting, for well near two hours.
The Japanese actress Koyuki (she was in The Last Samurai apparently, though I’ve never seen that) is Suntory’s main marketing presence for it’s whiskey/highball campaigns. I hope she gets paid a lot because I’d be willing to bet she has been a big reason for the highball’s resurgence:
This is a good overview of that resurgence.