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History

The history of Japanese whiskey

Do you know how long the Japanese distilling whiskey ?
Officially the history of Japanese whiskey began in 1923 with the construction of the first malt distillery of Japan Yamazaki, also one of the world's most famous and still active .
The history of whiskey in Japan coincides closely with the fate of two men : Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru that today are considered the founding fathers of Japanese whiskey.
Their two distinct philosophies deeply involved in the development of whiskey in Japan, the first one of Shinjiro Torii, was inspired to create a Scotch whiskey , but with a style and a Japanese character whiskey. The second , that of Masataka Taketsuru was to reproduce as close as possible whiskey Scotch whiskey but with a unique style and character .
Shinjiro Torii, the founder father pioneering spirit
Born in Higashi -Ku in the Osaka area , January 30, 1879 , Shinjiro Torii is the second son of a stockbroker, Chubei Torii . Resourceful and determined, he has worked since the age of 13 in the shops of Osaka port and through the various shops in which he pursued his studies , he discovered the trade of imported foreign wines and especially wines sweet Portugal; Madeira and Porto .
Shinjiro Torii
The history of Suntory and somewhere that Japanese whiskey empire, beginning February 1, 1899 when Shinjiro Torii decided on the eve of its 20th anniversary of opening a shop in Osaka : Torii Shoten .
Gradually the shop is a shop and Shinjiro Torii turns into wine shop offering a wide range of exotic drinks including Scotch Old Parr he particularly likes . But his ambition is greater , he wants to educate the Japanese Palace , renowned fine and difficult to particular flavors of Portuguese and Spanish wines.
Unfortunately failure is up to the difficulty of the challenge, and success does not appear . Shinjiro Torii , with its nature, does not stop there and decided to adopt a different strategy.
Since the Japanese palate does not fit the wines it offers , it will suit the Japanese palate wine . With the help of a team of scientists , it will begin to dissect these wines from Portugal to amend making it softer , more suited to Japanese cultural habits.
The fruit of this work is unveiled in 1907 , with the launch of its sweet wine called Akadama Port Wine which was an immediate success. Torii Shoten then a thriving delicatessen where Shinjiro Torii sells Akadama Port Wine also other imported products like spices, sauces or drinks. The same year was renamed the store Kotobukiya Liquor Shop.
Masataka Taketsuru , the founding father in mind globetrotter
Third son of a great producer of sake , Masataka Taketsuru was born in 1895 in the coastal town of Takehara located sixty kilometers from Hiroshima. His family owns the sake brewery since 1733 and Masataka is predestined to take over the family business , why he studied chemistry at Osaka and especially the fermentation and distillation university.
At the end of his studies in 1916, he was hired as a chemist by the distillery Settsu Shuzo specializing in the production of sake and shochu. Quickly spotted Kihei Abe, the owner of the distillery , the brilliant young Masatka Taketsuru is sent to Scotland to study the manufacturing process of Western liquors and more particularly that of whiskey.
He landed in Scotland in Glasgow in December 1918. During his stay , he attended numerous courses on distillation in Scottish universities, while following an intensive learning more absorbent expertise of master distillers and receiving training distilleries art assembly .
It is at the University of Glasgow that his love life will definitely change . Masataka , a brilliant young Japanese student , soon to seduce the young medical student , Ella Cowan, who befriends him to introduce his brother to Cowan that he taught jujitsu , and his sister Jessie Roberta who prefers to be called Rita.
It was a love at first sight , a true Hollywood romance. Yet they must live their love in secret. Their two families are not seeing a good look this budding romance between the two , they decide to oppose it. But love triumphs , and Masataka wife Rita in 1920 , the year of their departure for Japan.
On his return to Scotland, Masataka learns that his dream of being able to implement all the knowledge he has accumulated during his trip , will never see the day. At least not with Settsu Shuzo .
Unfortunately, the economic downturn due to the First World War did not spare Japan and Settsu Shuzo takes the decision to focus on traditional alcohols rather than embarking on the great adventure of whiskey. He eventually left the firm in 1921.
The unique collaboration for a bold project : the first malt distillery of Japan
Shinjiro Torii, on the eve of his thirtieth birthday , will not settle the growing success of his shop, he renames Kotobukiya Limited in 1921, is a visionary and above all passionate about this malt beverage the high degree of alcohol come to this island so remote that is Scotland.
He then threw a challenge at the height of his ambition and develop import whiskey in Japan. From experience he knows that imported whiskey will struggle to win the palace of his countrymen. Do not worry , it will adapt to Japanese. And behind this challenge , a crazy idea that creating his own whiskey. Scottish whiskey inspiration but purely Japanese style.
It will therefore have to him a distillery, and rather than buying one of the many distilleries shochu existing and adapted to the production of whiskey, he decided to create his own.
For that it will need the Scottish expertise that does not have his way and then crosses that of Masataka Taketsuru , another founding father of Japanese whiskey. Ironically , it is the main competitor Shinjiro Torii, Settsu Shuzo , who sent him to Scotland for two years. Taketsuru accepts the proposal Shinjiro Torii with whom he shares the same goals and the same passion for whiskey .
From the outset this collaboration makes sparks and vision of two men confront one essential point : the location of the distillery Shinjiro Torii wants to build . For Torii must whiskey suitable for Japanese and for that you need a place where the climate is totally different from that of Scotland, while for Taketsuru requires a comparable climate to produce whiskey to the nearest Scottish style .
Two sites are proposed Valley Miyagi with pure water and very strong for a climate and the island of Hokkaido, identical to that of Scotland to another climate.
It is finally Torii has the last word , and construction will begin in 1923 Yamazaki between Kyoto and Osaka Shimamoto at the foot of small hills which flows a source of very pure water. Construction was completed in 1924 and Taketsuru after fully contributed to the design and installation of technical facilities , continues to work for a few years Torii , which sends across Europe perfecting his knowledge on technical manufacturing foreign liquors .
In 1934, to satisfy his desire to one day own taste whiskey Taketsuru terminates the employment relationship with Torii and leaves Kotobukyia to build his distillery and create brand Yoichi Nikka now globally recognized and historic rival Suntory .

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