In 1918, Masataka Taketsuru began his voyage to Scotland. Here he would not only learn the art of whisky making at the University of Glasgow (becoming the first Japanese man to do this), but he would also meet the woman who would become his bride.
Masataka Taketsuru was born in the coastal town of Takehara. The Taketsuru family owned a sake brewery dating back to 1733, yet it was Scotch whisky that had captured the young man's imagination an so, he decided to travel to Scotland to learn all he could about its production. There, he took chemistry courses at the university and apprenticed at distilleries, learning from craftsmen and receiving training as a blender. Having met and married Jessie Roberts, Masataka returned to Japan with her in 1920 and proceeded to focus on producing Japan's first whisky. His experience in Scotland had taught Masataka that the right environment for production was essential.
In 1934 Masataka established Nikka Whisky, building its first distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, which Masataka had always thought very similar to the Scottish town where he had studied and therefore good for whisky production.
Today, Nikka's holds two malt whisky distilleries. The first -Yoichi - produces a rich, and peaty malt, which receives its aroma and body from direct heating distillation, where the pot stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal, a traditional method that is hardly ever used in modern times.
The location of Yochi was chosen due to its clean air, perfect level of humidity, and abundant flow of underground water filtered through layers of peat. The second distillery - Miyagikyo - is in Sendai, which is also in northern Japan. This site was chosen after Masataka stumbled acroos it whilst travelling. Surrounded by mountains and lying between two rivers, he sensed that this was the ideal site for whisky distilling. Sendai's fresh water, suitable humidity and crisp air produce a soft and mild malt.
Recently awarded ‘Distiller of the Year’ at the 2015 International Sprits Challenge, Nikka whisky is widely respected and celebrated. Other accolades include: Best International Blend and Gold Medal for its Coffey Malt, Malt Red, 17 Year Old and Grain From the Barrel Blend.