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Issue 135 - The Japanese Boom

Whisky Magazine Issue 135
April 2016

 

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The Japanese Boom

A huge increase in demand leads to rapid expansion

There was a time when one could have written about the Japanese whisky landscape and the need for updates five or ten years later would have been minimal or nil. It's safe to say those days are gone. In an unprecedented case of synchronicity, no fewer than six (and possibly one or two more) new whisky distilleries will have to be added to the map in 2016. The analogy is not perfect but that would be the equivalent of Islay doubling its distillery count in twelve months' time. Hard to imagine, yet it's happening in Japan.

Of the six new distilleries, two are built from the ground up, whereas the other four are expansions of existing liquor operations. The two brand new ones, Akkeshi Distillery and Shizuoka Distillery, are being constructed at an eerily similar pace despite the fact that they are owned by different companies and located in geographical areas with vastly different construction challenges.

Akkeshi Distillery is a project of the Tokyo-based import/export firm Kenten, but it is located in the cold north of Japan, on the Pacific coast of eastern Hokkaido, an area of wild beauty with ‘fog rolling in from the ocean over seemingly endless wetlands rich in peat.' Akkeshi is famous for its oysters, so if all of this conjures up images of Islay, rest assured the associations are not accidental. Keiichi Toita, CEO of Kenten, first fell in love with whisky after drinking Ardbeg 17 Years Old and has been an aficionado of Islay malts ever since.

Akkeshi Distillery wil...

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