The origin story of Japanese whisky has been oft-told, but it does bear a retelling, as it makes our friends in Scotland happy. Masataka Taketsuru, as a young man, visited Scotland to master whisky making, picking up in parallel a Masters of Chemistry, as well as Jessica Cowan, a Scottish bride. After his studies and internship, he returned to Japan, where he received a warm welcome from Shinjiro Tori, the founder of Suntory (now Beam Suntory), spending just a few years there, but enough to set Suntory on the path to glory.
After spending some time in Suntory, Taketsuru san left to establish a distillery of his own, and found Hokkaido to be his dream destination. As Hyderabad-based whisky connoisseur, Krishna Nukala, says, “Hokkaido is the northernmost island of Japan, and it is a replica of Scottish Highlands, both topographically and climatically. Just as the Gulf Stream brings rain to Scotland from the Atlantic Ocean, the warm Kuro Siwo currents bring copious rains to Hokkaido from the Pacific Ocean. The result is that the entire region is blessed with crystal clear waters, and what more, they flow through unending peat fields. You cannot have a better combination to make whisky.”
The distillery he went on to found was Nikka, which, along with its arch-rival Suntory, dominates the Japanese whisky industry.
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