Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Asaka Distillery

Review of YAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka SAKURA CASK FINISH from Sasanokawa Shuzo.Features, price, and how to purchase.


1. What is the Sasanokawa Shuzo?

Sasanokawa Sake Shuzo Co.

With a history of over 250 years as a sake Shuzo, the Sasanokawa Shuzo obtained a license to produce whiskey in 1946, continued to release the YAMAZAKURA series and other products, and in 2016 established the Asaka Distillery as a 250th anniversary project.

The Asaka Distillery has been gaining recognition both domestically and internationally year after year, with Yamazakura Blended Malt Japanese Whiskey Asaka Sherry Wood Reserve winning the world’s highest award in the Blended Malt Whiskey category at the World Whisky Awards (WWA) 2022.

Establishment 1765 (Meiwa 2)
Head office 1-178 Sasagawa, Koriyama-shi, Fukushima 963-0108
Owned distilleries Asaka Distillery

2.Asaka distillery

Address 1-178 Sasagawa, Koriyama-shi, Fukushima
Start of operation 1946 (old facility), resumed distillation in April 2016 (new facility)

Started operation in 1765
1920 Yamaguchi Sake Shuzo Co.
1932 Yamazakura Sake Shuzo Limited Partnership established
1946 Whiskey production license obtained.
1966 Sasanokawa Shuzo Co.
1983 Completed construction of whisky malt storage facility
1998 Yamazakura Shuzo and Sasanokawa Shuzo merge, with Sasanokawa Shuzo Co.
2004 (Heisei 16) Receives stored whiskey from Toa Shuzo.
2005 (Heisei 17) Ichiro’s Malt is released, planned by Venture Whiskey. (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 whiskey in 1946, when the demand for whiskey increased as a national policy during the postwar U.S. military occupation.
The shortage of rice during and after the war made it extremely difficult to brew sake, and the influx of Western culture after the war was also a factor in the company’s efforts to make whiskey.
In the 1950s and 1960s, during the period of rapid economic growth, Sasanokawa’s ” Cherry Whiskey ” gained popularity along with Toa Shuzo and Hombo Shuzo, and was called “Cherry of the North, Toa of the East, Mars of the West”.
However, with the slow growth and changing tastes, Toa was forced to withdraw from the business in 2003, and Sasanokawa took care of the barrels of the original whiskey at the distillery in Hanyu.
This was a big help for the release of Ichiro’s Malt, which later became popular worldwide.
Since the end of the war, the distillery has continued to produce whiskey 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 Shuzo, a sake Shuzo that has been in operation since the Edo period, and started operation at the end of October 2016 with production facilities and the cooperation of Chichibu distiller Ichiro Akuto.

The pot stills look great against the old-fashioned white plaster walls.

Image credit: Asaka Distillery’s official Facebook page

For more information about Asaka Distillery, please visit

安積蒸溜所 | ジャパニーズウイスキーディクショナリー
Japanese Whisky Dictionary

3. product name and photo


Yamazakura Single Malt Asaka cherry blossom CASK FINISH

4. Features

Limited edition of 1,000 bottles. A single malt Japanese whiskey made from first-fill bourbon barrel-aged, non-peated Asaka whisky, matured for more than one year in first-fill cherry blossom casks.

The citrus flavors and malty taste characteristic of Asaka are well balanced with the gorgeous and elegant flavors unique to cherry barrels, resulting in a robust taste.

4-1. Tasting Notes

Aroma Salted cherry, sponge cake, floral, lemon-like citrus, distinctive earthiness
Taste Baby sponge cake, cherry cream, good sweetness, good acidity for balance.
Aftertaste Sweetness lingers for a long time, leaving a clean freshness typical of non-port bourbons.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content 50% alcohol by volume
Distillate Single malt Japanese whiskey
Barrel type Bourbon Barrel,Sakura Cask
Content volume 700ml
Number of bottles sold 1,000 bottles
Suggested retail price 14,300 yen (tax included)
Release date 2024 

5. Awards

No awards received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Product name YAMAZAKURA Single Malt Asaka PEATED 2023 EDITION
Capacity 700ml
Suggested Retail Price Tax included: 13,200 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale price on Mercari is around 18,800 yen. (*As of 3/15/2024)

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo! Auction

Sold price on Yahoo! Auction could not be confirmed. (*Statistics for the past 180 days from 3/15/2024)

6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

(*as of 3/15/2024)

6-5. Prices offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR Shinkai” operated by this site, we offer small quantities such as 1 cup, 45ml: 4,290 yen, 30ml: 2,860 yen, 15ml: 1,430 yen, etc.

Information about "BAR Shinkai"
Japanese Whisky Dictionary operates three BAR Shingai stores in Minato Ward, Tokyo. In addition to the Japanese whiskeys introduced on this site, they also handle domestic gin and beer. Original cocktails and fresh fruit cocktails are also popular. There is also a wide variety of food available for the first time.

7. Summary

Sakura cask is also used in Hibiki’s Blossom Harmony, but this is a cherry cask with malt only. The cherry cask has a unique aroma, but it is well combined with the sweetness of the Asaka sake, giving it a very floral aroma. Please enjoy the opening of the aroma straight or with water.

What is “Yamazakura” whiskey? Please also see the thorough explanation of its taste and types.


Please check out other articles about “Asaka Distillery”.

[Review] YAMAZAKURA World Blende...
A world blended whisky with the Asaka distillery as the key malt and the five major regions of the world as the original malt. It is characterized by its low sweetness and refreshing taste.
[Review] YAMAZAKURA Single Malt ...
A single malt Japanese whisky made primarily from bourbon barrel non-peated base whisky. Accentuated subtle peat aroma. Citrus acidity, refreshing aroma. Light body with a good balance of barrel-derived sweetness and malt flavor.

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 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

(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.

(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 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.

(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 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.

Ryuhei Oishi

Bartender at bar Shinkai Toranomon, born in Hokkaido.
After working at a restaurant in Tokyo, became a certified sommelier by the Japan Sommelier Association.
I became interested in Japanese whiskey, of which he had little knowledge, and started working at bar Shinkai. I went to distilleries to talk to the distillers and joined JWD to share their passion and information as a bartender.

Ryuhei Oishiをフォローする