The Nikka distillery is a Japanese whisky distillery founded by Masataka Taketsuru in 1934. Taketsuru is considered the father of Japanese whisky, and his legacy lives on in the Nikka distillery, one of the most respected and renowned whisky distilleries in the world. The company was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, a former employee of Suntory who had a passion for whisky-making. Taketsuru studied at the University of Glasgow and trained as a blender at the now-lost Hazelburn distillery in Campbeltown before returning to Japan to establish Nikka.
The Journey of Nikka Whisky
The Yoichi distillery was opened in the same year as the company's establishment, followed by the Nishinomaya and Miyagikyo distilleries in 1959 and 1969, respectively. In 1989, Nikka purchased the struggling Ben Nevis distillery, marking the company's stake in the Scotch whisky industry. Today, Nikka is the second-largest whisky producer in Japan, known for their high-quality blended and single malt whiskies that embody the essence of Japanese craftsmanship.
A Taste of Nature: Yoichi, Hokkaido
The Nikka distillery is located in Yoichi, on the northern island of Hokkaido, and is surrounded by pristine forests and mountains. The location of the distillery was chosen by Taketsuru because he believed that the climate and natural environment of Yoichi were similar to that of Scotland, where he had studied the art of whisky making.
The distillery produces a wide range of whiskies, including single malts, blends, and grain whiskies. One of the most popular whiskies produced by the distillery is the Yoichi Single Malt, aged in oak casks and boasting a distinctive peaty flavor profile.
Beyond Whisky: A Diverse Range of Spirits
In addition to its Japanese whisky production, the Nikka distillery also produces a range of other spirits, including gin, vodka, and brandy. The distillery is also home to a museum that showcases the history and art of Japanese whisky making.
One of the unique features of the Nikka distillery is the attention to detail that goes into every aspect of the whisky making process. The distillery uses only the finest ingredients, including high-quality barley and water sourced from the nearby mountains. The whisky is distilled in traditional copper pot stills, carefully designed to replicate the stills used in Scotland.
The casks used to age the whisky are carefully selected and are often made from different types of wood, including American oak, European oak, and Mizunara oak. This careful selection of casks gives the whisky its distinctive flavor profile and ensures that each batch of Japanese whisky is unique.
A Legacy of Recognition
The Nikka distillery has won numerous awards and accolades over the years, including the prestigious World Whiskies Awards Distillery of the Year in 2015. The distillery's commitment to quality and tradition has earned it a reputation as one of the best whisky distilleries in the world.
Despite its success, the Nikka distillery has faced challenges over the years. In 1989, a fire destroyed much of the distillery, including Taketsuru's original house. However, the distillery was rebuilt, and today it continues to produce some of the finest whiskies in the world.
Meeting Global Demands
In recent years, the Nikka distillery has faced challenges due to the global demand for Japanese whisky. The distillery has struggled to keep up with demand, and has been forced to discontinue some of its age statement whiskies due to a shortage of aged stock.
Despite these challenges, the Nikka distillery remains a beloved and respected institution in the world of whisky. Its commitment to quality and tradition, combined with its unique location and attention to detail, have earned it a place among the world's best whisky distilleries.
Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, Nikka whisky is a testament to the art and craft of Japanese whisky making. Its distinctive flavors, rich history, and dedication to quality make it a true delight for whisky lovers around the world.
In conclusion, the Nikka distillery stands as a shining example of Japanese whisky craftsmanship, a legacy that began with Masataka Taketsuru and continues to thrive in the heart of Japan. From its scenic location in Yoichi to its dedication to tradition and innovation, Nikka whisky is a journey worth savoring, one sip at a time. So, raise your glass, and let's toast to the exquisite world of Nikka whisky! Cheers!