It's no secret that the Chichibu Distillery has a passion for getting involved in every step of the whisky making process. Nikkan Kogyo reports that the company has recently taken on six new staff members, one of whom is being trained in the art of coopering.
Cooperages are few and far between in Japan. The decline in popularity of Japanese whisky beginning in the 80s meant there was little domestic demand for coopering. In fact, there's only one independent cooper that has managed to survive: Ariake Sangyo.
However, the Chichibu Distillery decided to make their own. But make them out of what? We know that Akuto-san likes mizunara oak -- all of the eight washbacks at the distillery are made from the wood. Many of their releases have a very prominent mizunara note, such as the aptly named MWR "Mizunara Wood Reserve." Up until now, however, that mizunara wood was all sourced from Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. Beginning this year that's set to change, as the company will begin using mizunara sourced from the local Chichibu area. It's great to see the Chichibu Distillery's vision of a 100% local whisky finally coming true.