March 2022 new whisky distilleries: Yoshida Denzai & mitosaya

Two new whisky distilleries have popped up on the radar recently! There’s a grain whisky distillery coming in Niigata prefecture, and Chiba’s artisan mitosaya botanical distillery has obtained licenses for whisky, spirits, and more.

Yoshida Denzai Distillery

Tokyo-based Yoshida Denzai, a manufacturer of medical equipment, transformers, insulation, and plenty of other things has revealed their intent to also become a maker of Japanese whisky.

The “Yoshida Denzai Distillery” will be located in Murakami, Niigata, which is just north of Niigata City along the Sea of Japan coast.

Importantly, rather than malt whisky which is all the rage these days, the company has revealed they’ll be making only grain whisky. This means it will become Japan’s first independent craft grain whisky distillery, unrelated to Suntory, Nikka, Kirin, or even medium-scale makers like Hombo Shuzo and Venture Whisky.

Since last year’s new JSLMA standard for Japanese whisky, it’s evident that many new craft whisky distilleries must get grain whisky made entirely in Japan. Some companies are making it in-house.

For those that don’t, distilleries like Yoshida Denzai would give them an option to source legitimate Japanese grain whisky. But unlike massive grain distilleries such as Chita, Yoshida Denzai will be small: they’ll have a single 5000L hybrid still made in Germany. Yearly output is slated to be 90,000 liters.

I’ve said in the past that kourui shochu-making incumbents might already have some of the massive infrastructure required to make Japanese grain whisky at an “industrial scale,” but that’s not what is happening here. Yoshida Denzai is starting from scratch, at a small scale.

In any case, while they may be completely new to making whisky, it’s great to see Yoshida Denzai reading the market like this. Rumor has it that more dedicated grain distilleries are coming to Japan, especially in Hokkaido.

mitosaya botanical distillery

Remember when I visited the mitosaya Botanical Distillery back in 2019? The distillery I described as maybe “someone’s art project” that I “cannot quite grasp?”

They now have a license to make whisky, gin/spirits, and liqueur!!

The company has revealed absolutely nothing about when, where, how, or even why they’ve acquired a license to make whisky. But I’m going to guess it will be extraordinary, non-mainstream, and expensive as hell. Read my review of their marinara eau-de-vie for a better idea of why.

 

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