A whisky born out of love, turns into one of the world’s best whiskies

Top Photo: The barrels of Nikka with a replica of a giant bottle of Nikka are displayed. (Bottom): Nikka friendly male staff and Ms. Hiroko Miki, the author and Mr. Takashima warmly welcomed me in their receiving executive office Photo From THEPHILBIZNEWS/Monsi A. Serrano

Text and Photos By Monsi A. Serrano/THEPHILBIZNEWS

When it comes to alcoholic drinks, Japan is famous for sake which has been solely associated with them. While there are famous beers from Japan such as Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory, the 85 years old Nikka Whisky which was created out of a strong passion and desire to discover the secret behind whisky-making.

Hence, Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky and known as the Father of Japanese whisky being the first Japanese ever to master how to make whisky, made a name in the whisky industry. But more than creating the name, Masataka just like a typical Japanese sought for the perfection of his whiskies and this made Nikka Whisky, one of Japan’s top whisky makers which has even surfaced the Scottish counterpart whiskies.

Turning back the pages of history for Nikka Whisky, in 1920 Masataka returned to Japan with his Scottish wife Jessie Roberta also known as Rita. The two married earlier that year and Rita decided to join her husband in Japan supporting his ardent dream to have an ideal whisky just like what he learned from Scotland.

But along the way, they encountered a big challenge, when they discovered that Settsu Shuzo, the company which invested in Masataka to learn in Scotland, had to abandon his plan to produce an ideal whisky in Japan due to recessions after World War I.

While this was a setback, patience and timing paid off. After working for another distillery for 10 years and ended the contract, Masataka decided to go solo and create his own formula of a “perfect” whisky.

Then in 1934 he went north and built his first distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido and the rest is history.

More than being one of the world’s best whiskies, when one goes to Hokkaido, a trip to Nikka Distillery is a must regardless of the season of the year be it winter, spring, summer or autumn. From the facade alone, you will experience a foretaste of Edinburg castle in Scotland and this is a very good gesture of acknowledging of the Scottish influence and inspiration to Masataka.

Walking through the compound of Yoichi Distillery, you will not notice the time because every building has a story to tell and interesting information one can get such as various processes in making of the envied Nikka whisky, museum, restaurant, gift shop and even the tasting section with very nice panoramic view.

Built-in 1934, the founder of Nikka made sure that everything that he needed to come up with the perfect blend of whisky is there. Thus, the consideration of the climate which he found in Yoichi, was the deciding factor for Masataka.

It was close to the sea, in the midst of mountainous area which is comparable to a Highland in Scotland. Basking with clean air and freshwater that complement the cold climate with just-right humidity and a truly breathtaking location this paved way to what the birth of the world’s best whisky ever produced outside Scotland, the birth of Nikka Whisky came into being!

There are many things to do and to see at Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery. Plus you have the opportunity to taste for free and buy the coveted Nikka whisky popularized and made in Japan.

Indeed, a trip to Nikka Distillery is a must when you go to Hokkaido. The history will not just inspire you, but you will also be awed by the wonderful place they have and the warmth and hospitality of the people to their guests.

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