Flipping through some of the recently filed trademark applications, there were a couple that stood out as interesting. Let's take a look!
The NISEKO distillery
First up is a trademark application for "The NISEKO distillery" filed by a person going by the name Kotaro Taketsuru. That name may sound familiar, because if it's this guy, he is indeed the grandson of Nikka Whisky founder Masataka Taketsuru. He spent 20 years working at Nikka Whisky out of school, but has since gone on to launch a branding agency. In 2015 he kicked off the Rita Taketsuru Project, which among other things, appears focused on spreading information about the family through publishing books such as a Japanese-language collection of Rita's Scottish cooking recipes.
Kotaro Taketsuru no longer works at Nikka Whisky. Instead, his brand management agency was bought by visual communications firm amana inc., where he's still employed, per LinkedIn.
There isn't any (legal) distillery currently in Niseko. Yoichi is close, sure, but it's not Niseko. If an actual distillery does pop up in Niseko, we'll know after the license is approved by Japan's National Tax Agency.
While the trademark application does indeed cover whisky, it also covers clothing, wallets, belts, sandwiches, tea, hell even takoyaki. A wide variety of products that definitely aren't whisky. So it could just as easily be a "lifestyle brand" named The NISEKO distillery or whatever. I must say it would be pretty weird if the grandson of the founder of Nikka Whisky spends 20 years working there, then turns around and starts his own whisky distillery! Don't hold your breath over this one.
It appears that Yamato Shuzo's Mori no Sakagura might be moving forward with their plans to launch a whisky. The Mori no Sakagura has been listed in the "Speculative" category on the Japan Distillery Map for several months already, as they got their whisky distillation license in August 2017.
Yamato Shuzo has now filed a trademark application for both "Yamato Whisky" and "Santo Whisky," depending on which reading you prefer. Perhaps I can move them into the "Future" category soon!
Note: These are only trademark applications. The trademarks have not yet been granted, and the people or businesses that file them may not move forward with their plans. For many businesses, filing trademark applications is simply a precaution.