After a slight delay due to Typhoon Hagibis, Sasanokawa Shuzo is now set to launch a completely new Japanese single malt whisky: Yamazakura Japanese Single Malt Whisky Asaka The First.
Back two years ago I called the Asaka Distillery one to watch in 2018-2019. The distillery forms part of the lore of modern Japanese whisky: it was the site where many casks of Hanyu were matured by Ichiro Akuto-san to eventually end up in bottles as his legendary Ichiro's Malt Card Series.
That must have rejuvenated the staff at Sasanokawa Shuzo, as they renovated their facilities and relaunched it as the "Asaka Distillery" in 2015. Distillation was soon kicked off in 2016, Unfortunately this year's Typhoon Hagibis caused the nearby Sasawara River to overflow, and the facilities of the Asaka Distillery did see some mud flow indoors. Luckily there was no actual damage to the equipment -- after a week of clean-up by the staff, distillation was back up and running quite quickly. That said, they did lose a whopping ten tons of malt in one of their warehouses to water damage.
The team has overcome the hardships of natural disaster, which Fukushima prefecture is no stranger to. Yamazakura Asaka The First officially launched on December 9, 2019, after aging for 3 years. Only 1500 bottles are available at 8800 yen each. Some of you may be scratching your heads wondering why on earth anyone would pay 8800 yen for a 3-year-old Japanese whisky, and others are looking for the damn link to buy what is the first bonafide single malt Japanese whisky released by a new(ish) distillery in years.
For the latter crew: Sasanokawa Shuzo will be running a lottery to buy one of the 30 bottles(!) for online sale at this link here. Sign up by 5PM JST, December 8!