Sasanokawa Shuzo, with a history of over 250 years as a shuzo, obtained a license to produce whisky in 1946 and established the “Asaka Distillery” in 2016 as a project to celebrate its 250th anniversary.
This world blended whisky uses the Asaka distillery’s original whisky as the key malt, as well as whisky from the world’s five major regions. Matured in 10,000 liter capacity marriage tanks (American oak) in the aging warehouse.
Suntory’s Ao is a whisky that claims the five major regions of the world. We would like to compare the difference between them.
- 1. Manufacturer
- 2. Distillery
- 3. Product name and photo
- 4. Characteristics
- 5. Awards
- 6. Price
- 7. Summary
- Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky
Sasanokawa Shuzo Co.
|Establishment||1765 (Meiwa 2)|
|Head office||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) Start of operation
1920 (Taisho 9) Establishment of Yamaguchi Shuzo Co.
1932 (Showa 7) Establishment of Yamazakura Shuzo Limited Partnership
1946 (Showa 21) Obtained license to manufacture whisky
1966 (Showa 41) Establishment of Sasanokawa Shuzo Co.
1983 (Showa 58) Completed construction of whisky malt storage facility
1998 (Heisei 10) Yamazakura Shuzo and Sasanokawa Shuzo merge, with Sasanokawa Shuzo 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 Sasanokawa Shuzo.)
2016 (Heisei 26) Asaka Distillery starts full-scale operations.
Yamazakura Shuzo, founded in 1710 south of Lake Inawashiro, moved to Koriyama in 1765.
This Yamazakura Shuzo 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 Shuzo and Hombo Shuzo, Sasanogawa Shuzo’s “Cherry Whisky” also gained popularity.
However, due to low growth and changing tastes, Toa Shuzo was forced to withdraw from the business in 2003, and Sasanokawa Shuzo took over the barrels of the original whisky at the Hanyu distillery.
This was a big help in the release of “Ichiro’s Malt”, which later became popular worldwide.
The distillery has been producing whisky in small quantities since the postwar period, and currently uses two types: a Scotch type and a malt type imported from Kentucky.
The Asaka distillery is located in the “Sasanokawa Shuzo” a shuzo 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 distiller Ichiro Hido.
The pot stills look great against the old-fashioned white plaster walls.
Image source: Asaka Distillery’s official Facebook
For more information about Asaka Distillery, please visit here.
3. Product name and photo
YAMAZAKURA World Blended Asaka Distillery & 4
Yamazakura World Blended Asaka Distillery&4
A world blended whisky with the key malt from the Asaka distillery and the five major regions in the world.
Matured in a 10,000 liter marriage tank (American oak) in the Asaka Distillery’s aging room. The sweet aroma reminds us of maple syrup, and the clean and gentle herbal aroma spreads smoothly on the palate with a thick malt flavor and a spicy taste.
4-1. Tasting Notes
Refreshing herbal aroma with a hint of sweetness.
Woody and spicy, with a hint of mint and buttery sweetness.
Aromas of meadows and trees, and malt aromas linger on the palate.
4-2. Product Specifications
|By Alcohol||World Blended Whisky|
|Number of bottles sold||ー|
|Suggested retail price||4,400 yen (tax included)|
|Release date||Mid-January, 2023|
No awards received at this time.
6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price
|Product Name||YAMAZAKURA World Blended Whisky Asaka Distillery & 4|
|Suggested retail price||Tax included: 4,400 yen|
6-2. Resale price on Mercari
The resale price on Mercari is around 6,000 yen. (*As of 1/27/2023)
6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions
Sold price on Yahoo! Auctions: Lowest 4,300 yen, highest 4,300 yen, average 4,300 yen. (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 1/27/2023)
6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon
It is also available on the mail order website for 4,400 yen. (*As of 1/27/2023)
6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai
At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, we offer small quantities such as 1 cup, 45ml: 1,320 yen, 30ml: 880 yen, 15ml: 440 yen, etc.
It is characterized by its low sweetness and refreshing taste. It is a blended whisky made from the world’s five major whiskies with the Asaka Distillery’s original whisky as the key malt, which will be produced monthly.
The peat is quite mild and gives the impression of hiding in the back, and when drunk with soda, it is a flavor that will appeal to everyone.
“Yamazakura Blended Malt Japanese Whisky Asaka Sherry Wood Reserve” won the world’s highest award in the Blended Malt Whisky category at the “World Whisky Awards (WWA) 2022”, and the distillery is gaining recognition both in Japan and abroad.
■What is “Yamazakura” whisky? Please also see the thorough explanation of its taste and types.
■Please check out other articles about “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.
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 whisky 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
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.
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 whisky 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.
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 whisky? 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.
(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 whisky 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.