As you may remember, Hokuriku's only whisky distillery, the Wakatsuru Saburomaru Distillery, is one that I said you should be watching over 2018-19.
At the time, I had a few unanswered questions about the distillery and its future. Lucky us, because Japan's Nikkei business newspaper has recently profiled (paywall) the Saburomaru Distillery and its new manager, Takahiko Inagaki. And some of those questions have been answered.
Takahiko Inagaki and whisky
Inagaki-san's first experience with whisky was during his college years, as he figured carrying sake around was too heavy when hiking rivers for fishing. Why not go for something with a higher proof? Though he took a job at Hewlett Packard out of school, but found himself back at home only three years later due to his passion for making things. Notably, he took a job at his father's company, Hokuriku Coca-Cola Bottling Co., then became president of Wakatsuru Shuzo. This tells me Hokuriku Coca-Cola Bottling owns the Wakatsuru Saburomaru Distillery.
Some other tidbits from the article:
- The manufacturing line is around 50% complete.
- Inagaki-san says he wants to drink 30+ yo whisky he's made himself on the 100th anniversary of the whisky distillery -- that's 2052.
- They've also launched a project to use local mizunara for casks, similar to Chichibu's move.
- The first run is (somehow) scheduled for June to September this year, with a yield of 8000L/40 barrels.
As far as I know, Inagaki-san is the youngest and least experienced distillery chief in Japan. So should be interesting to see how things develop at the Saburomaru Distillery!
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