It's been over a year since we last talked about Hakkaisan Brewery's upcoming whisky, gin, and vodka distillery in powder mecca Niseko. On September 29, 2020, they gave the press a preview of the facility.Niseko probably needs no introduction for anyone who has gotten on a pair of skis or snowboard within the past few years. It's by far Japan's best-known ski resort on the international stage. Some people are calling it the "Aspen of Japan" due to big names like Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt, and Aman moving in.
Niigata-based sake superpower Hakkaisan appears to agree, as they're currently building a 9900m² distillery in the area. Hokkaido Newspaper reports that a press event was held a few days ago in the skeleton of the still-under-construction distillery.
It looks like their schedule has slipped by a couple months, because they're now saying that the distillery will be operational in February 2021. I expect the 2020-2021 season to be pretty slow for Niseko anyway, for obvious reasons.
Hakkaisan intends to release their first whiskies in 2024, which will be aged on-site at the distillery. In the meantime, they'll churn out some gin and vodka as well to tide us over.
The company has also revealed that the on-site shop will sell both sake (presumably from their home brewery in Niigata) and spirits from the distillery. And yes, a tasting corner! No distillery is complete without one.
By the way I don't think it has an official name yet. Let's go with "Niseko Distillery" for now.
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