Chichibu Distillery(Venture Whiskey)|Detailed information about the distillery

Whisky Distillery
Whisky Distillery
Chichibu Distillery (Ichiro's Malt)

A pioneer of Japanese craft distilleries with numerous legends and achievements.



The distillery was established in the wintertime of the whisky industry and is now regarded as a pioneer of craft whisky, and is now highly popular both domestically and internationally.
The family of the representative, Mr. Ichiro Hido, is the Toa Shuzo, a sake brewery that has been in Chichibu since the Edo period (1625)
In 1941, Mr. Hido’s grandfather, Isoji Hido, established a distillery in Hanyu City. In 1980, he introduced pot stills, which were rare at the time, and made malt whiskey using traditional methods.
Mr. Itiro Hido worked in sales at Suntory before joining Toa Shuzo.
He was involved in the production of whiskey at the Hanyu distillery, but the distillery was forced to cease production due to deteriorating business conditions, and the business was transferred to Hinode Trading, which also sold the distillery.
The distillery was also sold. At that time, the policy was to dispose of the Hanyu distillery’s sake, but Mr. Hido started his own business, Venture Whiskey, to prevent the disposal of the Hanyu distillery’s sake.
After taking over the barrels, he was able to sell Ichiro’s Malt with the generous cooperation of the Sasanogawa Brewery.
Among the Ichiro’s Malt products, the “Card Series,” which uses Hanyu distillery’s original sake and has a design of playing cards on it, boasts a cult following, and a full set of 58 bottles was later sold at auction for 100 million yen, creating a big buzz.
In February 2007, the Chichibu distillery started operation in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture.
It was the first time in 35 years that a new distillery had been opened in Japan during the whisky slump.
A second distillery will start operation in the fall of 2019.
In 2024, Mr. Ichiro Hido will become the youngest Japanese to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the highest rank among those given to individuals recognized by the prestigious British professional magazine, Whisky Magazine.
The distillery is truly worthy of the name “Venture,” as it is a pioneer of craft distilleries, both in name and reality, and has a dream for the next 100 years to come, while maintaining its unshakeable position.

2.Basic Information

2-1. Owner

Venture Whiskey

2-2. Location

49 Midorigaoka, Chichibu-shi, Saitama 368-0067
49 Midorigaoka, Chichibu-shi, Saitama


By train
15 minutes by cab from Chichibu Railway Minano Station.
20 minutes by cab from Seibu-Chichibu Station on the Seibu Line.

By Car
From Hanazono Interchange on Kanetsu Expressway, drive toward Chichibu.
Go straight on the Minano Yorii Toll Road.
Pass through the toll booth, get off at the second exit, go straight at the Otsuka intersection, and turn right at the next intersection.
Check the sign for Midorigaoka Industrial Park and proceed.

General tours are not accepted.

2-4. Start of operation

2008 (Heisei 20)

2-5. Main Products

The standard product of Chichibu Distillery, commonly called “White Label”.
It is relatively easy to obtain and easy to drink, so it is recommended for beginners.
It is recommended to drink it with soda, but Ichiro Hido himself also drinks it with hot water.

Ichiro’s Malt Malt & Grain Awards
None at this time.

3.Tours and Visitor Center

No public tours are accepted.
Only for businesses.

3-1. Dining Information

Hot spring facilities and delicious food attached to Chichibu Station.
Even if you can’t visit, it is more than worth a visit as there are many events such as ice cream made from Ichiro’s Malt.
In addition, the Highlander Inn Chichibu, co-owned by Chichibu Distillery ambassador Yumi Yoshikawa, is a must-visit place.

3-2. Sightseeing Lodging

4.Production specs

The Chichibu distillery’s brewing is extremely small, with only 400 kg of malt in one batch, and the annual production is equivalent to two days of Glenlivet.
The mash tun and pot still are made by Forsyth, using a direct gas-fired distiller.
In addition to imported malts, they also use local two-row barley “Sainohoshi” from Saitama Prefecture, and floor malting is used.
The second distillery will start operation in the fall of 2019.
The production volume will be five times that of the first distillery, with 2 tons of malt being prepared at a time.
The pot stills are the same straight shape but are larger than those of the first distillery in order to be able to distill five times as much.

Production volume 52,000 liters (LPA)
Preparation water City water (soft water) taken from the Ookawa River
Raw materials German, English, Scottish, and Saitama Prefecture
Brewing quantity 400 kg (about 300 times a year)
Malt mill Roller mill made by Alandrac
Saccharification tank 1 custom-made saccharification tank without agitator made by Forsyth (2,400 liters)
Wort volume 2000 liters
Fermentation tank 8 Japanese quercus wood tubing vats (approx. 3200 liters)
Fermentation time: approx. 80~100 hours
Pot still First distillation
1 Forsyth straight type (2000 liters)
1 Forsythe straight type (2000 liters)
A barrel factory (cooperage) with equipment acquired from Maruess Western Barrels
Floor mortaring (10-15 tons)
Cooling system Shell and tube
Bottling facilities Yes
Maturing warehouses 1st~4th storage 6 dunnage type, 1 rack type, 1500 barrels x 4
5th~6th cellars 3000 barrels
No. 7 storage cellar 18,000 barrels
Total storage capacity of 30,000 barrels

5.Maturing environment

The distillery is surrounded by nature and boasts hot and humid summers and cold winters with mornings and evenings below freezing.
This dynamic difference in temperature has a great impact on the maturation of the whiskey, resulting in a fruity and well-balanced whiskey despite the short maturation period.
When Venture Whiskey was first established, Hanyu Distillery had 400 barrels of whiskey that had been stored for nearly 20 years, according to Mr. Hido.

6.Distillery Story

6-1. History

It all started with the closure of the Hanyu distillery owned by Toa Shuzo, one of the three major whiskey makers once known as Cherry of the North (Sasanogawa Brewery), Toa of the East (Toa Shuzo), and Mars of the West (Honbo Brewery).
The acquired company decided to dispose of the Hanyu distillate, and Ichiro Hido took it upon himself to establish Venture Whiskey in 2004 in order to protect the original distillate.
He negotiated with various companies to temporarily keep the Hanyu sake until the distillery could be built.
However, the consumption of Hanyu whiskey had dropped to one-fifth of its peak during the winter period, and no company was willing to take care of it.
However, when the Sasanokawa Brewery in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, explained the situation, they said, “It is a loss not only for the manufacturer but also for the industry, and moreover, it is a loss of time to dispose of something that has been aged for a long time. He then lent us his storage space.
In this way, the precious sake was spared from being discarded.
The first 600 bottles of Ichiro’s Malt were bottled in 2005 and sold for 15,000 yen.
In order to get the word out to bartenders, he visited at least three bars every day, and in two years he sold to a total of 2,000 bars.
Sold out 600 bottles by hand for 2 years.
The following year, 2006, the company won the highest award in the “Premium Japanese Whiskey Special” sponsored by Whiskey Magazine, a British magazine, just over two years after starting the business.
The “Card Series,” a whisky with a design of playing cards, and Ichiro Hido’s name became instantly well-known.
In 2008, he opened the distillery of his dreams.
In 2019, he will release the first age-stamped Chichibu The First Ten as a completely in-house product.
It received high acclaim both domestically and internationally.
In November 2022, established a wholly owned subsidiary, Venture Grain Co.
Tomakomai Distillery, a distillery for grain whiskey production in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, with full operation scheduled for spring 2025.

Venture Whiskey established in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture. Hanyu distillery’s original sake is transferred to Sasanogawa Brewery.
2005 (Heisei 16)
2005 (Heisei 17)
Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu 1988″ and “Card Series (1st)” are released.
2006 (Heisei 17)
2006 (Heisei 18)
Ichiro’s Malt Card King of Diamonds” was released.
Ichiro’s Malt Card King of Diamonds” received the highest score Gold Award in the Japanese special edition of the British Whisky Magazine.
(Heisei 20)
Chichibu distillery is opened. Malting training in England.
2009 (Heisei 20)
2009 (Heisei 21)
Newborn” series, “Single Grain Kawasaki” and “Ginko” are released.
2010 (Heisei 21)
2010 (Heisei 22)
Released “MWR”, “Wynwood Reserve”, “Double Distilleries” and “The Final Vintage of Hanewoo 10years”.
2011 (Heisei 22)
2011 (Heisei 23)
Chichibu The First” and “Malt & Grain” are released. Begins barley cultivation with a local farmer. Started home-brewing barley on a trial basis. Newly built a barrel aging warehouse.
2012 (Heisei 24)
The Peated” and “The Floor Malted” are released.
2013 (Heisei 24)
2013 (Heisei 25)
The Coorperage (keg factory) was established.
Chichibu On the Way” and “Chichibu Chibi Daru” are released.
Chichibu Distillery becomes SMWS malt whiskey distillery #130 with its first bottling, released the following year.
Two Jokers from the Card series are released, completing the 54 varieties (58 bottles in all).
Efforts begin to revive local barley “Golden Melon Saitama No. 1” through organic cultivation.
54 card series sold at auction in Hong Kong for HK$3.8 million (approximately ¥59 million).
Ichiro’s Malt Kiyosato Field Ballet 26th Anniversary” (the second bottle) is released.
Full-scale home-brewing of malt begins.
(Heisei 30)
Began making barrels from Quercus serrata wood harvested from Quercus serrata forests in the Chichibu Mountains.
2019 (Heisei 30)
The Chichibu 2nd distillery is opened, increasing production capacity by about 5 times.
2020 (the year of 2020)
Chichibu The First Ten” and “Ichiro’s Malt & Grain 505” are released.
2021 (the 2nd year of the 20th year of the 21st year of the 20th century)
Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Japanese Blended Whisky Limited Edition 2021″, “Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries Chichibu & Komagatake 2021” and “Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Classical Edition” are released.
Completes the construction of the rack-type No. 7 maturation cellar.
All 58 bottles of the Ichiro’s Malt Card series are sold at auction in Japan for 100 million yen.
Venture Grain Corporation is established.
2022 (2022)
Ichiro’s Malt & Grain 2022 Urawa Horse Racing Original”, “Ichiro’s Malt & Grain Blended Japanese Whiskey 2022”, and “Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu The Peated 2022” released.
Venture Whiskey’s plan to build a new grain whiskey distillery in the Tomakomai eastern region of Hokkaido (Tomatoh) is reported.
The “Whisky 100 Year Project – Fellow Distillers” blended whisky, a collaboration of five domestic manufacturers, is announced.
Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Single Cask Mizunara Heads Hogshead.
Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Red Wine Cask 2023 is released.

6-2. Past blenders

Master Blender Ichiro Hido

President of Venture Whisky Co.
Born in Chichibu, Saitama in 1965.
His parents’ family is the Hido-Honke, a brewery established in the Edo period.
After graduating from Tokyo University of Agriculture with a degree in brewing, he worked for Suntory before joining the family brewery run by his father.
However, when the company was transferred to another company in 2004, he purchased the original whisky that was to be disposed of and established Venture Whisky Co.
In February 2008, the Chichibu distillery was completed.
In February 2012, Chichibu The First, the first malt whiskey distilled in-house, won the “Japanese Whiskey of the Year” award at the Whisky Advocate’s 18th Annual Awards, sponsored by the U.S. specialty magazine Whisky Advocate. Whisky Advocate’s 18th Annual Awards.
The award is the highest of the titles given to individuals recognized by the British magazine Whisky Magazine, and the company has been inducted into its Hall of Fame.
His motto is “Time is Life.

Ambassador Yumi Yoshikawa

Born in 1981 in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan.
After working as a bartender at the Imperial Hotel, she moved to New York in 2008 and to Scotland in 2011.
She worked as a bartender at the Highlander Inn, a whisky bar in Speyside.
He worked as a bartender at the Highlander Inn, a whisky bar in Speyside, and then at the Bruichladdich distillery on the island of Islay.
After returning to Japan, he has been actively promoting Ichiro’s Malt as a brand ambassador at Venture Whisky, giving tours of the distillery and manning a booth at events, whiskey seminars and lectures.
In 2019, she was awarded “World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year” at “Icons of Whisky” organized by Whisky Magazine.

7.List of other distilleries

List of Japanese Whisky Distille...
The latest list of whisky distilleries in Japan updated in January 2021, including Yamazaki distillery, Hakushu distillery, Yoichi distillery, Miyagikyo distillery, craft distilleries Chichibu distillery, Atsugishi distillery, Gaia Flow Shizuoka distillery, Mars Shinshu distillery, Mars Tsunuki distillery, Saburo Maru distillery, Azumi distillery, and 27 more! I'll be back!
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