New Whisky Distilleries: Yamaga and Chiyomusubi

It's getting quite tough to keep up with all of the new whisky distilleries popping up in Japan. Today we highlight two that have come through the press: the Yamaga Distillery and Chiyomusubi.

Yamaga Distillery

Kumamoto prefecture's first whisky distillery will be called the Yamaga Distillery, and they've already begun distillation.

The distillery is operated by a company called MCA Holdings, which is the alcohol manufacturing arm that was spun off from Minami Kyushu Coca-Cola Bottling back in 2006. Minami Kyushu Coca-Cola Bottling was one of many companies formerly operated by the Hombo family--yes, that Hombo family--so the president of MCA Holdings, Masafumi Hombo, is himself a member of the same family.

Though they may be connected by blood, they are apparently also keeping things in the family in terms of expertise: MCA Holdings has reached out to Hombo Shuzo for learning how to make whisky.

But that appears to be the only connection. The Yamaga Distillery doesn't actually fall under Hombo Shuzo's umbrella, so they should remain somewhat independent. At the same time, don't be surprised to see some Mars/Yamaga collaborations in a few years either.

Per local press, The Yamaga Distillery has some 1259 square meters of space and just acquired their license at the end of October. The total spend was 1.1 billion yen.

Chiyomusubi

We first reported on Chiyomusubi's whisky distillery back when they got their license, but now some new formal details have emerged via Nikkei.

The Tottori-based distillery plans to launch its first single malt in fall 2024, for 7000-8000 yen. Single cask releases will go for around 12,000 yen.

Tapping into their sake-making roots, Chiyomusubi plans to use sake yeast in their whisky operation as well.

I'll continue to report on new distilleries as they come along, but Japan is definitely a hotbed of activity these days in terms of new openings. Stay tuned!

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