New Karuizawa Distillery Announces Historic Partnership with dekantā

The agreement involves supply of Japanese whisky and creative collaboration for many years to come.

December 21, 2022

TOKYO – The partnership commitment will see independent bottler and Japanese whisky specialist dekantā and the new Karuizawa distillery in Japan working together for the foreseeable future, resulting in a combination of official distillery bottlings and independent releases, alongside innovative Japanese whisky events and experiences, all with the intention of reviving the former prominence of this world renowned whisky brand. The deal is also expected to result in private cask sales, an area of the industry which has largely been a closed door to international consumers up until this point.

Built by Daikiku Budoshu Co. in 1956, in the foothills of Mount Asama, the old Karuizawa distillery produced a richly sherried, single malt whisky for blends, which has become highly prized by collectors of Japanese whisky since it was mothballed in 2000. The remaining stock was sold to private investors, and has since been bottled with premium presentation.

Major renovations have been underway at the new Karuizawa distillery in the last couple of years, and the distillery is due to open and begin producing liquid from late 2022. Continuing the legacy of this historically-significant brand, the Karuizawa Whisky Company has hired world-renowned Master Distillers Osami Uchibori and Yoshiyuki Nakazato, who were distillers of the original Karuizawa Whisky. The new distillery is being built in the heart of the peaceful mountain resort of Karuizawa, though it will not operate on the same site as the closed distillery of the same name.

“I’m very proud we’ve struck this partnership with masterful whisky distillers I so greatly admire,.”,,” said dekantā Director Makiyo Masa. “From retaining key experts in the team, to their commitment to use only sherry cask whisky, it is clear the team at Karuizawa are dedicated to protecting and advancing the rich legacy of the Karuizawa brand. It is a huge honour to continue to play a part in the story of a brand which holds such great significance in Japanese whisky history.”

dekantā has developed a reputation for its independent bottlings of the Karuizawa whisky remaining from the closed distillery, which come housed in magnificent packaging and enfolded in rich storytelling. In November 2021, dekantā introduced The Budō Collection – Karuizawa 35 Year Old (1981 – 2017) #7147 Japanese Single Cask Whisky ($45,000 USD; 3-bottle set; 51.00% ABV; 70cl), of which just 45 sets were available, individually hand-painted by three Japanese street artists, and inspired by three modern Japanese martial arts: Kendo, Karate and Sumo.

Closed in 2000, the original Karuizawa distillery has enjoyed increased interest in its produce as it has become more scarce. As global interest in Japanese whisky has grown in recent years, demand for stock from the closed Karuizawa distillery has increased dramatically, along with the price of the remaining bottles, which have reached prices in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the secondary market. The value of Karuizawa (according to the distillery index compiled by now sits at the top of the distillery indices at 701.51, ahead of top Japanese distilleries Yamazaki (518.09) and Hanyu (425.51), and top Scottish distilleries Rosebank (571.80) and Macallan (490.58).

“This is a venture that we believe will help to take Japanese whisky to the next level,” said dekantā Head of Content Liam Hiller. “Further boosting its popularity around the globe and allowing fans to get their hands on some precious Karuizawa liquid, distilled to the same quality and specifications as the famous bottles that sell for tens of thousands at auction houses around the world.”

Japanese whisky fans will need patience: The distillery plans to produce only sherry cask whisky, with only 250 casks filled each year, and none will be bottled before the age of 10 years old. All casks will be stored at the Karuizawa distillery and bottlings undertaken at the distillery. The allocation for Karuizawa casks filled in 2022 have already sold out; the cask allocation for 2023 will be available for sale soon.

Owner of the new distillery Shigeru Totsuka said: “We are very proud to have struck this partnership and look forward to bringing top quality Karuizawa whisky to dekanta’s clients for years to come.”

Notes to Editors:
dekantā Founder Makiyo Masa and Head of Content Liam Hiller are available for interview. Please RSVP to arrange, Miriam Rune: / +44 7740 339 628.
dekantā Newsroom:
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About dekantā
Leading online retailer and award-winning independent bottler of Japanese whisky, dekantā offers the world’s largest online selection of authentic Japanese spirits and, since the opening of its online store in 2015, has delivered to 127 countries across every continent in the world. A family owned and run business, dekantā’s founders have been selling collectibles since 1985 and specialize in rare, collectible, and new release single malt Japanese whisky. dekantā offers worldwide delivery on an extensive range of Japanese single malt whisky, Japanese grain whisky, Japanese blended whisky, World Blends, other spirits and wine from Japan.

About the new Karuizawa Distillery
The new Karuizawa Whisky Distillery under the direction of Shigeru Totsuka, the 16th generation distiller of the Totsuka Distillery in the neighbouring town of Saku, is located in the town of Karuizawa in an idyllic forest location with views of Mt. Asama. The new Karuizawa Whisky Company has employed the original Karuizawa Whisky’s Master Distillers; Mr. Uchibori and Mr. Nakazato. Mr. Uchibori will act as an advisor and Mr. Nakazato will be in charge of the distillery. Under the watchful eyes of Mr. Nakazato, the new Karuizawa Whisky Company will produce sherry cask whisky that will be laid down for ten years. The new Karuizawa Distillery’s attention to detail and world-class team are set to continue the tradition of Karuizawa Whisky for many years to come.

History of Karuizawa Whisky
Built by the Daikoku Budoshu Co. in 1956, at the foothill of Mount Asama, the old Karuizawa Whisky was a tiny distillery in an idyllic location. It operated for around 7 years before being purchased by the Mercian Corporation in 1962. After years of selling their whisky under a different brand, it wasn’t until 1972 when Karuizawa managed to release their first single malt whisky. Despite the fact that Japanese single malt whisky was growing in popularity towards the end of the 20th century, Kirin Holdings, who had recently purchased the Mercian Corporation, did not consider it to be worthwhile to keep Karuizawa open. Thus, Karuizawa was mothballed in 2000 and shut down in 2011, and all their stock and equipment was sold to private investors. The extremely limited amount of whisky remaining from the original distillery with its rich, sherried Scotch-like character is what makes it so sought-after today.

For all press queries, photos or to arrange an interview with Makiyo or Liam, please contact Miriam Rune: