Newly-formed Karuizawa Distillers has unveiled plans to build a new Japanese whisky distillery in Komoro, which is due to begin production in 2022.
Karuizawa Distillers was formed by CEO Koji Shimaoka with the aim of constructing a ‘state-of-the-art’ distillery that could ‘honour’ the Karuizawa name.
The Karuizawa distillery closed its doors in 2010 and was demolished in 2012. Since its closure, some of the remaining casks of Karuizawa whisky have been bottled and regularly reach record prices at auction.
Through its proposed Komoro Distillery, Karuizawa Distillers hopes to “protect the legacy” of the Japanese brand, while producing single malt “in the most environmentally friendly way possible”.
Shimaoka said: ‘Karuizawa whisky is a global symbol of the rich nature and history of our local area. I want to protect and honour this great name, whilst creating a new legend in the place I have called home for over 20 years.”
Construction of the Komoro Distillery is due to commence in early 2021 and distilling is set to begin in spring 2022.
The distillery claims to be the highest in Japan at 910 metres above sea level and will be situated just five miles from the original Karuizawa Distillery site.
Production capacity at the new facility will be limited and the proposed annual output will be one tenth that of Yamazaki.
Former Kavalan whisky maker Ian Chang has also joined the project as vice president, master blender and distiller for the new Komoro Distillery.
Chang will manage the full production process including a wood maturation programme that will utilise mizunara Japanese oak, Sherry casks and shaved, toasted and recharred (STR) barrels.
He said: “I am very excited to be able to continue my passion for whisky making in such a well-respected whisky market as Japan. My late mentor, of 12 years, Dr Jim Swan, always said that whisky making is about the perfect fusion of the right people in the right place, at the right time.
“I know that with the incredible team we have in place, the abundant local natural resources, and the commitment from the local government, we can bring a brand new chapter of world-class whisky making back to the Karuizawa region.”
The new plans come just months after Tao Shuzo revealed plans to revive the Hanyu Distillery next year.
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Author: Owen Bellwood