Sakurao Distillery began making whisky in 2017. Three years have passed, and this summer, they released their first single malts. What kind of whisky are they making at the distillery? In conjunction with the release, we take a look back at their journey so far.
Header image: The wash still and spirit still are both made by Holstein. The spirit run is done on the one with the column on top.
Text: Yuko Ogawa
Images: Mamoru Tsuchiya
Translation: Whiskey Richard
This article originally appeared in Japanese in Whisky Galore Vol.26 / June 2021.In March 2021, Chugoku Jozo announced the company would be changing names. Going forward, it will be known as "Sakurao Brewery & Distillery K.K." (below, Sakurao B&D). With the name change, and adding the word "Distillery," it's apparent that they are enthusiastic about entering the worldwide whisky market from their base in Hiroshima.
Sakurao B&D was established in 1918. As a comprehensive liquor manufacturer, they have in the past made sake, shochu, umeshu, and liqueur. In 2017, marking a turning point with their 100th anniversary, the company opened the Sakurao Distillery. There, they started making gin and whisky. "Sakurao Gin," which uses locally grown juniper berries, has received widespread acclaim inside and outside of Japan. At 2021's World Gin Awards, "Sakurao Gin Hamagou" won Gold in the London Dry Gin category, and "Sakurao Gin Original" was the Country Winner.
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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.