It's been a while since Japan's National Tax Agency got around to updating their disclosures about newly issued distillery licenses.Better late than never though. Please welcome these four new players potentially entering Japan's growing craft whisky scene. As always, until there's an official announcement from the companies themselves, these will remain in the Speculative category on the map.
Okinawa: Shinzato Shuzo Suzaki Factory
Awamori maker Shinzato Shuzo has been granted a license to make whisky at their factory in Okinawa's Suzaki, located in Uruma. If it pans out, this would be the third whisky distillery in Okinawa, after Helios and Masahiro. Shinzato already has experience with aging spirits in oak casks: their Shinzato 7 is a blend of 10 year awamori with 7 year cask-aged awamori.
Shinzato is Okinawa's longest operating distiller of awamori, with a history going back to 1846. Per Shinzato's page, the Ryukyu Kingdom only permitted 30 people to (legally) make the stuff back in those days. The descendants of one of those people have kept the stills going for a whopping 175 years.
Hyogo: Shiki Shuzo
Shiga: Nagahama Distillery #2
It looks like Japan's smallest whisky distillery might not be so small in the future. Nagahama Roman Beer's Nagahama Distillery has seemingly outgrown their site in downtown Nagahama, as they've acquired a license for a new facility about 5km away. in Torahime.
Shizuoka: Fuji Kaguya Distillery
I like the name of this one! Toki no Sumika is a company that runs a resort of the same name near Gotemba, at the base of Mt. Fuji. They already make Gotemba Kogen Beer, so I suppose whisky is a logical extension. The Fuji Kaguya Distillery will be in Fuji city. In fact they've also obtained licenses to make beer and liqueur at the same facility, so it's shaping up to be a boozy new spot in the area.