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Published 8 times a year Whisky Magazine is the perfect complement to the dram in your glass.

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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Japanese Whisky Distilleries

Masataka Takesuru is regarded as the founder of Japanese whisky. Born 1895 into a Sake-brewing family.


He left Japan for Scotland in 1918 to study chemistry and whisky making at Glasgow University taking up apprentaships with Scottish distilleries he learnt from craftsmen at first hand the skills associated with distilling and blending.


He returned in 1923 with a Scottish wife and a deep desire to create Japanese whisky on the island of Hokkaido. However his employer at the time Kotobukiya, insisted that the best location for the distillery would be close to the major urban areas on Honshu, so Yamazaki (Suntory) was established with Takesuru in charge.


His Vision of a northern distillery on Hokkaido never left him. There was peat, oak and the island climate was similar to the Scotland he knew. To produce the whisky he desired he would have to become independent. In 1934 he left Yamazaki to set up his own distillery. Six years later the first whiskies were released from the Yoichi distiller

Chita (Suntory) Grain Whisky Distillery

Industrial Unit

Located in the Aichi district south of Nagoya city as part of the “Sungrain” Division of the Suntory group. The distillery has a production capacity of "550,000 kl" per anum staffed by 24

Chita distillery

Kitahama-machi 16, Chita, Aichi 478-0046, Japan No visitor facilities

Has been bottled as the Suntory Single Grain Whisky `Chita`"


Fuji–Gotemba Whisky Distillery

Japanese Malt and Grain Distillery Founded in 1973 by Kirin Seagram Co in the foothills of Mt Fuji

Hanyu  Whisky Distillery

The Akuto family who were originally sake-makers in the town of Chichibu established this family business in 1626.

Karuizawa Whisky Distillery

Karuizawa distillery was established in 1955 in the foothills of Mount Asama,

Miyagikyo Whisky Distillery (Nikka)

Masataka Takesuru founded The Miyagikyo Distillery in 1969 this distillery is close to the city of Sendai in northern Honshu, the main Island of the Japanese Islands

Hakushu Whisky Distillery (Suntory)

The original Hakushu Distillery was built in 1973, located in a forest setting in the foothills of Japans southern Alps

Nishinomiya Distillery (Nikka) Now Closed

The Nishinomiya distillery was located on Eastern side of  the Asahi brewing complex at Nishinomiya  now a distribution unit.


Coffey continuous stills where installed here until the late 1990s.These stills where moved to Miyagikyou in 1998/1999. This has lead to some confusion about where the Nikka Coffey malt and grain whiskies where produced. It has been assumed by some that these whiskies came from Miyagikyou However up until 2010 Nikka has only released Coffey whiskies made at Nishinomiya


No tours, no access,

Nikka Whisky, Nishinomiya Koujou,

2-118 Tsutoiidenchou, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo-ken.


Shirakawa Distillery Now closed and gone Location Fukushima

Takara Shuzou, was an old sake and shochu making business and can trace its roots back to the mid 19th century, purchasing the distillery from another brewer immediately after the Second World War. During the late 1960s the company moved into DNA manipulation and is now a world leader in this field

Takara still has interests in alcohol, during the 50s and 60s, its "King" blended whisky and "Takara" beer brands were prominent. However the beer  and whisky are now  long gone and now makes most of its sales through traditional Japanese alcohols, chu-hai cocktail drinks and mirin cooking sake.

The company’s interest in quality whisky production is now overseas - it owns the Tomatin distillery in Scotland and Blanton's bourbons

Shirakawa distillery was officially closed in 2003 used solely as a bottling plant in its later years.


Shinshu Distillery (Mars)

Owned by Hombo Spisits  the Shinshu Industrial unit is a multipurpose site. The company is famous for their Japanese shochu and plum wines which are sometimes marketed under the "Mars" brand that they use on their whisky

The Shinshu plant was opened in 1985. Its main brand of single malt is called "Komagatake" ( translates to “Pony Mountain").

Before 1985 Hombo's whisky operations had been at Kagoshima (1953) on the Southern Island of Kyushu,

The Distillery ceased  producing whisky in 1992 However the company has refurbished its still room and plans to start distillation again in 2011


Shinshu Bottlings

Komagatake 10

Komagatake 1986

Komagatake 1989


Shinshu Distillery (Mars)

4752-31 Miyata-mura ,


Nagano 399-4301


Yamazaki Whisky Distillery (Suntory) 

Yamazaki Distillery was the first whisky distillery built in Japan (1923). The first domestic whisky "Suntory Shirofuda" (blended) went on sale in 1929.

Yoichi Whisky Distillery (Nikka)

The distillery founded in 1934 by Masataka Takesuru is the furthest North of the Japanese distilleries located on the island of Hokkaido.

Buy Japanese Whisky Buy Japanese Whisky