The Taste of Japanese Whisky

Whisky is a spirit made from malt or other grain types. It's mostly associated with Scotland, but also produced outside of the British Isles. Because after World War II, Japan became one of the largest producers of Whisky outside of Scotland, we found that it was time to start incorporating Japan's number one strong spirit in the Anime festival. We're doing this by organising the first Japanese Whisky tasting event in The Netherlands. This event is for people 18 years of age or over only and requires an additional €10 fee. Sign-up can be done here

Please note that at this point, the maximum number of participants have subscribed. If you subscribe now, we will put you on a waiting list. Should enough people fill up this waiting list, we will organise an additional tasting.




The History of Japanese Whisky

In 1923, Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in the Vale of Yamazaki. Using copper pot stills, the Yamazaki distillery was the first of its kind outside of Scotland. The distillery’s location on the outskirts of Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto offered pure waters, diversity of climate and high humidity and according to Tori the ideal environment for the maturation of good whisky. Torii was able to start his empire by enlisting a Japanese chemist who had been sent out to learn about the Whisky trade in Scotland, a certain Masataka Taketsuru (1894-1979) by the later defunct Osaka-based company called Settsu Shuzo, who also wanted to produce a Japanese whisky. Taketsuru was send to Scotland in 1919 to get educated in western science at Glasgow University, and in his free time, also learning about the art of blending and distilling.
When he returned to Japan in 1920, he realised that the project for which he had been recruited was not going to see the light of day. And, following the 1922 stock market crash, he lost his job. A year later, he joined the Kotobukiya group (Later Suntory), for which he and Torri built the Yamazami distillery.

In 1934, after a dispute with Torii, he decided to strike out on his own. Masataka Taketsuru remembered from his experience in Scotland that the environment was essential for producing a quality whisky and realised that the climate of Southern Hokkaido closely resembles Scotland. He found the perfect place for his distillery in the town of Yoichi and created the Nippo Kaju and in 1939, he began his first blends. War broke out, but this did not stop him from bringing out his first bottle in 1940. In 1952, the company definitively adopted the name Nikka Whisky.
His growing success enabled him to establish a second distillery in 1969 on the island of Honshu close to the city of Sendaï. Meanwhile, Suntory established a second Distillery, Hakushu, near mount Fuji which prompted Nikka to start a third one, which has since closed and only used for storage near Tokyo.




The two Giants

Nikka and Suntory are the most well known brands of Japanese Whisky. Nikka, Taketsuru's company, was subsequently bought by Asahi Breweries but still operates as a seperate company. Suntory has started to expand in all kinds of beverages as well.
Of these two giants, only Suntory is well known in The Netherlands and most of Europe, simply because they have a good distribution channel here and at that time, Nikka produced only enough Single Malt Whisky for the home market. Luckily for us Westerners, this is slowly changing.



Japanese Active Distilleries

The map above, made by Shinanoya places all active Japanese Distilleries in it's place. However, the Karuizawa Distillery is currently only a museum. Voices from the west are screaming for the factory to re-open as the Whisky, which has to mature for at least five years, is of exceptional quality and the Honbo Distillery only produces blended whisky at this time. An odd one in the World of Whisky is Eigashima's White Oak Distillery, which, up till recently, only produced blended whisky. They discovered that the malts they produced for their blends, were actually quite good. This led to their quiet release of a five year old Single Malt called Akashi, after the large city which is near the Distillery. This malt has been on the market for a few years and was reletively un-noticed, untill they decided to release a one-off 8 year old Single Malt at a large Whisky event which got high praise from all famous Whisky buffs. They now produce, alongside their five year old, a very limited batch of 12 year old Akashi (about 2000 bottles a year, 500ml. bottles). The funny thing about this distillery is that they only produce Whisky during Summer because they produce Wine in Autumn, other spirits and apperatives in Spring and Sake in the Winter.



Our tasting

The Whisky you are about to taste will be from the Nikka Whisky family, The closed distilleries of Kawasaki and Hanyu and from the new player on the Japanese market, Chichibu, a re-start by an old whisky lover, Ichiro Akuto the son the old Hanyu Distiller. Ichiro is distilling new Whisky but also selling batches of his father's legacy to finance the new Whisky made at the Distillery. We expect a lot of good things to come from this passionate Whisky maker.

Our Whisky's


1. Chichibu Distillery, 2 year old, Peated Whisky, Whisky Live 2011 Tokyo bottling, Single Malt
2. Nikka Aoba Distillery, 15 year old Miyagikyou regular bottle, Single malt
3. Ichiro's Malt Mizunera, Mixed age Pura malt, No.1 Drinks botling (different Japanese distilleries)
4. Hanyu Distillery (Closed), Ichiro's malt Wine Wood Reserve, Malt whisky
5. Kawasaki Distillery (Closed), 28 year old, Single grain whisky
6. Nikka Yoichi Distillery, 15 year old, Yoichi regular bottle, Single malt



The Rules


  • You have to be 18 years of age or older on May 7, 2011.
  • You will need to bring your ID and show it to the security people at the door before you are allowed entrance.
  • Whole weekend visitors only, due to the hour of the tasting and the possibility of you driving home.
  • You are not allowed to drive after partaking in the tasting.
  • The tasting is limited to 35 people. If the limit is reached, you can not attend.
  • Drawing is by first received first entered rule.
  • You will need to fill out the form here to subscribe for this event.
  • Whole Weekend visitors only
  • Starting time and location: To be determined

The cost

Taking part in this tasting costs €10, to be paid upon entrance in paper money only.

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