Shizuoka Distillery Announces First Whisky Release In Japan

Have you heard of the Shizuoka distillery?

It was founded in 2016 by Gaia Flow, importer of global brands like Blackladder, Swedish Mackmyra, and Asta Morris. Taiko Nakamura, president of the company, founded the new distillery in the Tamagawa district of Shizuoka City.

In preparation for their distillery project, in 2015, Gaia Flow bought the distilling equipment previously used by the legendary Karuizawa distillery, which was dismantled in 2011. This is amazing news for us Japanese whisky fans, as everyone hopes that the stills will be used to produce stellar whisky once again.

If Shizuoka creates whisky even close to the stuff by Karuizawa, then we’re all in for a treat!

The equipment was purchased as is, but only one of the three Karuizawa stills can be used. The other two were simply too old. However, they are displayed at the new distillery, as a tribute to Karuizawa. The grain mill and barrel hoop driving machine were also salvaged.

The new owners decided to completely dismantle and shut-down the Karuizawa site, but now fans of the long lost distillery will have a place to go and view the equipment responsible for making some of the world’s rarest and most delicious whisky.

Premium Bottle Selection Program

Since its opening earlier this year, eager fans have been awaiting the first releases by the Shizuoka distillery team. The time is finally here, but the bottles won’t be sold in the old-fashioned “go-to-the-store” way.

In March of every year, from 2018 to 2023, successful applicants will be sent 6 bottles a year, 36 bottles in total. From 2018 until 2020 the bottles will contain 200ml each, but from 2021 to 2023 the size will rise to 700ml.

The bottles will be samples from 6 different single casks, which will enable drinkers to really gauge how the spirit is maturing. The program is meant to give fans an idea of how the whisky’s maturation is progressing, starting from new make spirits, and eventually growing to 5 year-old whiskies in 2023.

Here’s how it will look:

March, 2018 6 new pots 200 ml
March, 2019 6 Single cask new spirits (1 year-old) 200 ml
March 2020 6 Single cask new spirits (2 year-old) 200 ml
March 2021 6 Single cask whiskies (3 year-old) 700 ml
March 2022 6 Single cask whiskies (4 year-old) 700 ml
March 2023 6 Single cask whiskies (5 year-old) 700 m

Reservations open on October 12th at 12:00 at the company’s web store.  Unfortunately, the program only applies to Japan, and only a Japanese bank account and address can be used to apply.

But be patient and who knows, you might come by these whiskies sooner than you think.

Let’s see if the old Karuizawa equipment can still work its magic.