The first ever barrel exchange between Japanese distilleries has taken place ! The Saburomaru and Nagahama distilleries have joined forces to create Inazuma and Far East of Peat, the first collaborative whiskies between Japanese craft distilleries.
In contrast to the Scottish producers who sometimes have the habit of exchanging casks for the blending of their whiskies, the Japanese distilleries tend to work each in their own corner and are self-sufficient thanks to the great variety of the different types of single malts they have learned to master over the years.
Even if the historical producers and behemoths of the sector are not able to keep up with the demand, the Japanese whisky is nevertheless in full effervescence with the creation these last years of numerous distilleries such as Kanosuke, Miyashita, Sakurao, Asaka, to mention only them. These young distilleries created "from scratch" or heirs of a know-how of traditional alcohol producer, are promising and to be followed closely, especially Nagahama and Saburomaru with this exchange of barrels.
Nagahama, the smallest whisky distillery in Japan, is operated by Roman Beer Co. Ltd., a beer brewer since 1996. It is located in central Japan on the shores of Lake Biwa in Nagahama City (Shiga Prefecture) and began distilling malt in November 2016 with two atypically shaped stills reminiscent of Arabic architecture, from which they derive the nickname aranbic. The distillery made a name for itself with its first imported cask-based bottlings indicative of the blending work and future character of Nagahama whiskies ; the World Malt Amahagan range. Since 2020, it has released several small batches of single malts distilled, aged and blended at the distillery.
The history of Saburomaru Distillery located in Tonami City (Toyama Prefecture) began in 1952 when Wakatsuro Shuzo, a sake brewer and shochu producer, obtained a license to distill whisky. Malt distillation began in 1954 and continued intermittently until 2016 when Wakatsuru Shuzo decided to renovate its facilities in the Hokuriku area to produce whisky. Distillation began there in 2019 after the commissioning of the two Zemon pot stills designed by the traditional Oigo Seisakusho foundry specializing in the manufacture of bonsho Buddhist bells. Nevertheless, the many years of distilling whisky and thus the casks accumulated over the years, allowed the creation of an ultra limited edition that has made headlines for its age ; the single malt Saburomaru 55 years.
Takahiko Inagaki Manager & Blender of Saburomaru, and Yusuke Yahisa Blender of Nagahama are proud to present the fruit of their work of blending and exchange between Japanese distilleries which consists of 2 Japanese blended malts and 2 world blended malts (blend of Japanese and Scottish single malts).
Nagahama blended malt Japonais Inazuma Synergy Blend
Japanese blended malt bottled at 47% in 700 copies. The 100% Japanese blend is composed of a non-peated single malt distilled and aged in Nagahama and a peated single malt distilled and aged in Saburomaru.
Nagahama world blended malt Inazuma Extra Selected
World blended malt bottled at 47% in 6000 copies. The blend is composed of 3 single malts; a non peated single malt distilled and aged in Nagahama, a peated single malt distilled and aged in Saburomaru, and a Scottish single malt carefully selected by the distillery's team.
Saburomaru blended malt Japonais Far East of Peat First Batch
Japanese blended malt bottled at 50% in 700 copies whose 100% Japanese blend is composed of an unpeated single malt distilled in 2017 then aged in Saburomaru and a peated single malt distilled and aged in Nagahama in Islay quarter cask recovered from Laphroaig.
Saburomaru world blended malt Far East of Peat Second Batch
World blended malt bottled at 50% in 5000 copies whose blend is composed of a lightly peated single malt distilled and aged in Islay quarter cask in Nagahama, a very peated single malt of 2017 distilled and aged in Saburomaru, and Scottish single malt carefully selected by the distillery's team.
Nagahama and Saburomaru are teasing the historical producers by opening a totally new path that Nikka or Suntory, to name but two, have never dared to explore. Perhaps the exchange of casks between Japan's most famous distilleries will occur in response to this daring first collaboration with the creation of limited editions in the years to come. With the possibilities of swapping being numerous, one could imagine a Yoichi and Yamazaki blended malt or a Chichibu and Hakushu blended malt being released one day.
The simultaneous release of Inazuma and Far East of Peat whiskies is scheduled for March 30, 2021, and unless you live in Japan it will be complicated to get your hands on one of the bottles that are all intended for the domestic market. Nagahama and Saburomaru have started a promising collaboration that we would like to see continue in the future with each year the release of limited editions that over the years could be older and older.