"Sakurao" from the sea, "Togouchi" from the mountains. Experiencing Sakurao Distillery's two single malts.
On July 1, 2021, the Sakurao Distillery released their long-awaited single malt whisky. But not just one bottle. They simultaneously released both "Sakurao" and "Togouchi." What's the story behind these releases? Whisky Galore Editor Mamoru Tsuchiya sits down with Head Distiller Taihei Yamamoto to find out.
Text: Yuko Ogawa
Images: Ayumi Fujita
Translation: Whiskey Richard
This article originally appeared in Japanese in Whisky Galore Vol.27 / August 2021.
Tsuchiya: The time has finally come, four years after launching the Sakurao Distillery in 2017. So first of all, congratulations on your first release.
Yamamoto: Thank you.
Tsuchiya: Most distilleries would only release one whisky for their first release, but the Sakurao Distillery has two: "Sakurao" and "Togouchi." Is there any particular reason for this?
Yamamoto: Our company already had the "Togouchi" brand of blended whisky. Togouchi, which is also the brand name, is an area in the mountains of Hiroshima. There's a tunnel there from back in the days when Japan's railways were nationalized, and we're currently using it as a maturation warehouse. We knew from our experience that aging whisky in this Togouchi Tunnel made it very round and smooth. That's why some of the single malt was matured in Togouchi.
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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.