The mayor of Chichibu recently announced that a second distillery will be built in collaboration with Venture Whisky, Ichiro Akuto’s company behind the current Chichibu distillery. The mayor’s announcement states that the site will be completed in December 2018, located in an industrial park in Chichibu. The increased capacity will attempt to keep up with the growing demand for the world-renowned Ichiro’s Malt whisky range.
Since its inception in 2008, the Chichibu distillery has quickly risen to become the most well-known and loved small whisky distiller in Japan. Led by founder and whisky legend, Ichiro Akuto, the Chichibu team strive to create the most flavourful, high-quality expressions they can, as they constantly experiment and evolve as a distillery. The team is comprised of very young, passionate distillers and brand ambassadors, who are often sent out to train in distilleries around the world.
Keeping things as local as possible, Chichibu strives to use local ingredients and promote the Japanese craft through innovative and attentive production processes. The team, wanting to tackle every aspect of whisky production, has built its own cooperage near the distillery, something unusual for small distillers in Japan. In Japan, most of the mizunara oak used for casks is sourced from up north, in Hokkaido. Recently, according to Nikkan Kogyo, Chichibu will begin using mizunara sourced from the Chichibu area, moving further forward in its mission towards producing 100% local whisky.
The distillery continuously receives awards at both local and international spirits competitions. Single cask releases sell out in seconds, both online and in department stores, to which the distillery often supplies exclusive bottlings. The annual Chichibu Whisky Festival sees whisky lovers the world over travel to the small town of Chichibu to visit the distillery and attempt to purchase a bottle of the annual single cask Chichibu Festival release. Getting a bottle, however, is near impossible.
The new Chichibu site, and continuous announcements of new whisky distilleries to be constructed in Japan, clearly shows that local producers are confident Japanese whisky demand will only continue to rise both domestically and across the globe in the future. Japanese whisky hasn’t peaked yet!