Suntory Holdings, the closely held Japanese whiskey and beer maker, is exploring the possibility of making a takeover offer for the US distiller Beam, according to an official of the Japanese company. The Osaka-based company has held talks with Diageo about a potential joint offer, the person said, asking not to be identified because the talks were private. Suntory and Diageo are currently not in discussions and Suntory can make the offer by itself, the person said. Buying the Deerfield, Illinois-based maker of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Canadian Club liquor would help Suntory push overseas to offset a shrinking population at home. Suntory will not make an offer at the current share price as it is too expensive, said the person. Beam’s stock has gained 17 per cent so far this year. Suntory hasn’t approached Beam nor has it made a bid for the US company, the person said. Suntory spokeswoman Naoko Tsuda declined to comment on whether they are considering the deal. Calls to Beam’s media office weren’t answered outside regular hours. Gilbert Ghostine, Diageo’s president for the Asia-Pacific region, declined to comment. Diageo held talks with Suntory about buying Beam for more than US$10 billion, the Sunday Telegraph said in an article over the weekend, citing unidentified city sources.