A sweet aroma wafts through the air as unblended malt whisky gushed from a storage cask at Hokkaido’s Akkeshi Distillery in the freezing rural north of Japan last December.
The distillery is just one of a growing number of craft distilleries that have sprung up recently around the nation, their products drawing parallels with more established giants such as Suntory and Nikka which have become renowned for the unique profiles of their Japanese whisky.
Kenten Co Ltd, headquartered in Tokyo, utilizes large puncheon barrels made of Mongolian oak, native to Japan, to hold the whisky as it ages.
Its whisky is distinctive for its citrus notes and the briny aroma the company says is derived from the sea fog that rolls through the area.
“Japan takes craftsmanship seriously,” said Katsuyuki Tatsuzaki, 50, director of the distillery. “We want to protect the tradition and always have superior products.”