Sasanogawa Brewery, with a history of over 250 years as a sake brewery, obtained a license to produce whisky in 1946 and established the Asaka Distillery in 2016 as a 250th anniversary project.
The distillery has been gaining recognition both in Japan and abroad, with Yamazakura Blended Malt Japanese Whisky Asaka Sherry Wood Reserve winning the world’s highest award in the Blended Malt Whisky category at the World Whisky Awards (WWA) 2022 held this year.
- 1. Manufacturer
- 3.Product name and photo
- 4. Characteristics
- 5. Awards
- 6. Price
- 7. Summary
Sasanogawa Brewery Co.
|Establishment||1765 (Meiwa 2)|
|Head office location||1-178 Sasagawa, Koriyama-shi, Fukushima 963-0108|
|Owned distilleries||Asaka Distillery|
|Location||1-178 Sasagawa, Koriyama-shi, Fukushima|
|Start of operation||1946 (old facility), resumed distillation in April 2016 (new facility)|
1765 (Meiwa 2): Operation started.
1920 (Taisho 9) Yamaguchi Sake Brewery Co.
1932 (Showa 7) Yamazakura Sake Brewery Limited Partnership established
1946 (Showa 21) Licensed to produce whisky
1966 (Showa 41) Sasanogawa Brewing Company established
1983 (Showa 58) Completed construction of whisky malt storage facility.
1998 (Heisei 10) Yamazakura Brewery and Sasanokawa Brewery merge, with Sasanokawa Brewery Co.
2004 (Heisei 16) Receives stored whisky from Toa Shuzo.
2005 (Heisei 17) Ichiro’s Malt is released, planned by Venture Whisky. (The manufacturer column on the back label of the bottle is Sasanogawa Brewery.)
2016 (Heisei 26) Asaka Distillery starts full-scale operations.
Yamazakura Brewery, founded in 1710 south of Lake Inawashiro, moved to Koriyama in 1765.
This Yamazakura Brewery was the first to obtain a license to brew whisky in 1946, when the demand for whisky increased as a national policy during the postwar American military occupation.
The shortage of rice during and after the war made sake brewing extremely difficult, and the influx of Western culture after the war was also a factor in the company’s commitment to whisky making.
In the 1950s and 1960s, during the period of high economic growth, the company was known as “Cherry of the North, Toa of the East, and Mars of the West,” and along with Toa Brewery and Hombo Brewery, Sasanokawa Brewery’s “Cherry Whisky” became very popular.
However, as Toa was forced to withdraw from the business in 2003 due to low growth and changing tastes, Sasanokawa took care of the barrels of original whisky at the distillery in Hanyu.
This was a big help in releasing Ichiro’s Malt, which later became popular worldwide.
Since the postwar period, the distillery has continued to produce whisky in small quantities, and currently uses two types: a Scotch type and a malt type imported from Kentucky.
The Asaka distillery is located in the “Sasanokawa Sake Brewery,” a sake brewery that has been in operation since the Edo period, and began operations at the end of October 2016 with production facilities and the cooperation of Chichibu distillery Ichiro Hido.
The pot stills look good against the old-fashioned white plaster walls.
Image credit: Asaka Distillery’s official Facebook page
For more information about Asaka Distillery, please visit here.
3.Product name and photo
YAMAZAKURA Asaka 2022 EDITION
Yamazakura Asaka 2022 Edition
Accented with 50ppm peated base liquor
This is a blend of carefully selected 1st fill bourbon barrel non-peated and 50ppm peated. It is gentle, mellow, and rich, with a light citrus acidity unique to Asaka and a refreshing lemongrass-like aroma with a hint of peat. Nuts, savory canele, and vanilla can be detected, and the barrel-derived sweetness and malt flavor are well balanced with a light body.
Reference: Asaka Distillery official Twitter
4-1. Tasting Notes
Plum, pineapple, and yogurt-like acidity stand out.
Light bodied, sweet and sour peach, plum, vanilla, tart crust
Slightly sweet oaky aroma that quickly fades after the moderate acidity is gone.
4-2. Product Specifications
|Alcohol content||50% alcohol by volume|
|Alcohol category||Single malt Japanese whisky|
|Cask type||Bourbon casks, etc.|
|Number of bottles sold||Limited quantity|
|Suggested retail price||11,000 yen (tax included)|
|Release date||June 20, 2022|
No awards received at this time.
6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price
|Product name||YAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka 2022 EDITION|
|Suggested Retail Price||Tax included: 11,000 yen|
6-2. Resale price on Mercari
The resale price on Mercari is Around 13,800 yen to 18,000 yen The resale price on Mercalli is (*As of 7/19/2022)
6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auction
Sold price on Yahoo! Auction is Lowest 9,250 yen, highest 13,800 yen, average 11,387 yen. (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 7/19/2022)
6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon
No products are available on mail-order sites. (*As of 7/19/2022)
6-5. Prices offered at BAR Shinkai
At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, we 1 glass, 45ml: 3,630 yen 30ml: 2,420 yen, 15ml: 1,210 yen We also offer small quantities such as.
Not too sweet, with almost no peat taste, and a refreshing taste that is perfect for this hot season.
The official product description says, “The subtle accentuated peated Asaka peat aroma is pleasant”, but I didn’t feel it, or rather, I didn’t feel the peat at all, to the point where I thought it was non-peated. I only drank it straight, so perhaps the peat would come out if I drank it on the rocks or with soda.
It has a taste that is not close to any of the recent Japanese whiskies, but there are no negative elements, and my impression is that this is a delicious whisky.
We are looking forward to the next release to see what kind of whisky the Sasanogawa Brewery, which is well versed in sake brewing, will be aiming for in the future.
Please be sure to check out our other articles on Asaka Distillery.
Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky
If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.
(1).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue
In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery
(2023/06/07 20:00:46時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)
(2). Japanese Whisky as an Education for Business
This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled “Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business” .
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.
(2023/06/08 11:04:51時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)
(3). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)
Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.
(4). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery
Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whisky, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.
(2023/06/08 07:00:08時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)
(5). Whiskey Rising
This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whisky can be found.
(2023/06/07 23:45:27時点 Amazon調べ-詳細)