Japan’s history of whisky began when Masataka Taketsuru ventured to Scotland in 1918, determined to make authentic Scottish-inspired whisky in his homeland. Now revered as the Father of Japanese whisky, Taketsuru founded Nikka Whisky which released its first whisky in 1940, later going on to create the beloved Taketsuru Pure Malt.
Taketsuru treated whisky like the science it truly is, studying it in depth and taking chemistry courses at the University of Glasgow. All this while apprenticing at three different Scotch distilleries. He was passionate and dedicated to his purpose, filling two notebooks up with every detail necessary that would serve as Japan’s blueprint for creating whisky.
Nikka Whisky wasn’t the first Japanese whisky to hit the market though. Once he returned to Japan, World War I and the recessions put a damper on Taketsuru’s plans, though only temporarily. He was recruited to Kotobukiya Limited (Suntory) in 1923, in charge of constructing the Yamazaki Distillery.
He paved the way for Japan’s first authentic whisky and then had his own chance to shine. In 1934, he went off on his own to start his own venture. He chose the remote Yoichi in Hokkaido which he deemed similar in environmental conditions to Scotland.
And what great things would come from this place. Yoichi Distillery was the first, his ideal haven for crafting the genuine Scottish whisky flavors with the precision of Japanese detail. In 1969, Miyagikyo Distillery was opened to create a different whisky to create a contrast in tastes.
With the differing terroirs and different distillation methods, the fun of course is in tasting these differences of Nikka Whisky’s creations. Miyagikyo produces very distinctive malt whiskies where Taketsuru Pure Malt shines like a diamond for the world to behold.
One taste of Taketsuru Pure Malt and you’ll discover the legacy of a man who made it his life’s mission to put Japan on the map for some of the finest whisky on the planet. Taketsuru Pure Malt is one of the signature whiskies from Nikka Whisky, bringing forth a subtle malt flavor with delightful fruitiness and a well-balanced profile. It would be the one to start with if you’ve never had the pleasure of sampling Nikka’s whiskies.
Once you do, you can delve deeper into the vault. Taketsuru Pure Malt 17-Years-Old is a show of strength that opens with a gentle aroma of peat. For a very mellow flavor that delights both the nose and palate simultaneously, it is a distinguished creation. And finally, the 21-Year-Old aged Taketsuru Pure Malt is incredibly well-matured. It’s rich of cask and ripe fruit with a complexity that creates the perfect whisky-drinking experience.
To drink whisky and not try one of Japan’s most stellar compositions of it would be criminal. Put one on your shelf, or better yet, in your glass and revel in every sip.