Whisky Magazine Issue 75
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Dave Broom takes a trip to Japan's latest distillery.
Despite its attractions, it is always a relief to escape from the gravitational pull of Tokyo.The 90 minutes it takes to get from the city to what I assumed to be the calm of rural Chichibu was therefore spent in the belief that this would be a chance to enjoy the placid, laid-back life of another Japan. This is a country, however, that specialises in confounding expectations. The closer we got to Chichibu the busier the train became.By the time we pulled into the station it was rammed, the crowd hustling us down the stairs to a plaza filled with the smells of cooking food: fish, noodles, dumplings, sweets. Garish signs and barkers cries. It may be that Chichibu is a quiet town for most of the year, but on the first week of December it goes crazy. It's Night Festival, held to commemorate the meeting of the god of Mount Fuko with the goddess of the shrine of the town which has taken place for more than 300 years and trust me, the Japanese like a party.
“Welcome!”says Ichiro Akuto as we finally find him among the throng.“It's a bit crazy here, but we can do all of this later. First we must go to the distillery.” It seems only fair.
The opening of a new Japanese distillery is of equal worth.The opening of one owned by someone who has been through as much as Akuto-san is enough to justify a new Chichibu Festival.
Akuto-san's name will be familiar to regular readers of Whisky Magazine.This is the man whose family has been in the drinks-making business since 1625, when h...