We are delighted to hear that, in 2016, many exciting developments are underway in the world of Japanese whisky and drinks.

A while ago, we reported that the independent bottler, Gaiaflow, was due to open its very own distillery in Shizuoka. We have also heard news that No One Drinks –the geniuses that supply us with most of what’s left of Karuizawa whisky –are opening a Gin distillery near Kyoto. We could not be more elated!

Another no less exiting fact is that the Tokyo based food and drinks trading company, Kenten Co., is also opening a distillery, and like Yoichi, it’s going to be located in Hokkaido!

Named the Akkeshi distillery, after its somewhat obscure location on the pacific coast of Hokkaido (Click here to see on Google maps), even for Hokkaido, this location is a little out of the way. However, there is method in this madness, with its positioning being cleverly chosen due to it being of a similar climate to Islay in Scotland. Akkeshi is reportedly chiefly famous for oysters, and we are fairly certain that Kenten Co. will do their best to plug their whisky with this luxurious aphrodisiac.

Kenten Co. has been working hard in constructing the Akkeshi distillery since August 2015, with plans for its completion as early as April 2016. They hope to begin the distillation process in the following October. This, of course, means that we won’t actually be able to experience any of its whisky until 2019 at the earliest, but this is still great news for all fans of Japanese whisky, giving us a new taste to look forward to.

The Akkeshi distillery area will be some 2900 square meters; it will have two pot stills and an annual output capacity of 300.000 L (double that of Karuizawa), although only 30.000 L is planned for production within the first year. Like most Japanese distilleries, Akkeshi will model its methods on that of Scottish whisky. The water will come from the nearby Homakai River, with Mizunara, sherry, and bourbon casks being used for aging.

The Akkeshi website is incredibly interesting, in that it contains technical details for us whisky nerds, rather than the usual hyperbole. You can find much information on the climate and terrain of Akkeshi, as well as a complete distillery overview, detailing the project’s roadmap. The Facebook page of Akkeshi distillery is regularly updated with its progress, and Kenten Co. cater their updates for both Japanese and English. For whisky lovers wishing to immerse themselves in this exciting project, both sites are well worth a read.

The Akkeshi distillery is clearly imbued with both passion and drive, and being situated in such an obscure location, this creates an allure that will surely keep us on our toes until 2019. Having been drowned in the details of the development, we are exceptionally thrilled to try out Akkeshi whisky. We wholeheartedly believe that we may just have the next high class Japanese whisky on our hands.

Henry Baldvin