The Malt Whisky Yearbook is an annual geek’s guide to every whisky distillery in the world. I write about the Japanese ones. In the 2017 edition that included a look at Japan’s newest distillery in Ibaraki.

Company president Toshiyuki Kiuchi is an avid malt collector who felt that the current offerings from his homeland didn’t represent what Japanese whisky should be, so he’s on a mission to redefine it.

He bought a hybrid system from China — a 1,000 litre pot still and column — and set it up, for now, on the second floor of a beer warehouse. There are plans to add a 5,000 litre pot still and give the whole operation a more formal home soon.

The same brewhouse that tuns out the multi-award-winning beer is producing the wash. Essentially, they’re distilling their pilsner, minus the hops and wheat. Most of the malt comes from Germany or Belgium, but the company is experimenting with local barley too. They’ve revived a strain that was all but wiped out after the war, though for now it’s earmarked for the beer.

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Malt Whisky Yearbook