The world's hopes for Japanese craft whisky
Whisky Galore Editor Mamoru Tsuchiya speaks with Akkeshi Distillery's Keiichi Toita.
The Akkeshi Distillery began operating in 2016 in Hokkaido.
The company, with an admiration of Islay, has been advancing Japanese craft whisky to new frontiers. They will release their first full bottle single malt this fall. The owner, Toita-san, is close to realizing his dream.
Photos: Ayumi Fujita
Translation: Whiskey Richard
This article originally appeared in Japanese in Whisky Galore Vol.22 / October 2020.
Mamoru Tsuchiya (below, "MT"): I recently visited Akkeshi for the first time in two and a half years, and was shown how the distillery is coming along. Since 2016 we've covered Akkeshi a few times, and even before that we've spoken several times.
Keiichi Toita (below, "KT"): Absolutely.
MT: On this trip, while I wasn't able to visit the rackhouse that was built on the coast, I was quite moved when I saw the big "AKKESHI" lettering on the building during transit. This year is your fifth season, correct?
KT: Yes, it's our fifth season.
MT: So you're trying lots of new things, and on this trip I was shown to the "Ryofu" two-row barley fields. And I visited the Mizunara oak virgin forest. Can you begin by telling us what's currently going on at Akkeshi, what your process looks like, and what you are aiming for?
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Mamoru Tsuchiya is Japan’s foremost whisky critic. He is the Representative Director of the Japan Whisky Research Centre, and was named one of the “World’s Best Five Whisky Writers” by Highland Distillers in 1998. He served as the whisky historian for NHK’s Massan and he has published several books such as The Complete Guide to Single Malt Whisky, Taketsuru’s Life and Whisky, and The Literacy of Whisky. He is the editor of the bimonthly Whisky Galore, Japan’s only print whisky magazine.