Miyagikyo Distillery(Nikka Whiskey)|Detailed information about the distillery

Whisky Distillery
Whisky Distillery
Miyagikyo Distillery

Established in 1969 as Nikka Whisky’s second distillery.
The distillery also serves as a production base for grain whisky, which is essential for blending.


1.Outline of the distillery

This is Nikka Whisky’s second distillery, which was found by Masataka Taketsuru, who wanted to produce a different type of malt malt from the strong and heavy Yoichi malt.
There is a famous episode of him drinking Black Nikka with the clear water of the Shinkawa River in this gorge surrounded by two clear streams, the Hirose River and the Nikkawa River, near the border with Yamagata Prefecture, and making an immediate decision.
By using multiple sources from the two distilleries, they were able to create a whisky with a richer and richer flavor.
Miyagikyo Distillery is proud of its “Café-style continuous distillation machine.
This distillation machine was already considered obsolete when it was introduced.

In addition to being old-fashioned, the café-type distillation machine tends to leave a residual taste, but Nikka’s advanced distillation technology can transform it into the original aroma and sweetness of the ingredients, which is why Masataka Taketsuru chose this old-fashioned distillation machine.
As part of the company’s efforts toward 2034, the 100th anniversary of its founding, Nikka has decided to invest a total of approximately 6.5 billion yen in the facility.

2.Basic Information

2-1. Owner

Nikka Whisky (Asahi Group Holdings)

2-2. Location

1 Nikka, Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi 989-3433
1 Nikka, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture

2-3. Access

Free bus service
Free shuttle bus service is available from JR Sakunami Station (only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays).
Departure times 【9:10/10:00/11:10/12:00/13:00/13:40/14:40】.
*From JR Sendai Station to Sakunami Station on the JR Senzan Line (1 train every hour): approx. 40 min.

City Bus
From Sendai Station, take the bus bound for Sakunami Onsen and get off at Nikkabashi.
(Time required: about 60 minutes)

By Car
From the Sendai-Miyagi IC of the Tohoku Expressway, take Route 48 toward Yamagata.

2-4. Start of Operation

1969 (Showa 44)

2-5. Main Products

Single malt Miyagikyo

[Review] Single Malt Miyagikyo
The depth is increased, gorgeousness and lightness. The addition of sherry barrel malt and new barrel malt to the fruity original sake has created depth and thickness even in the light.
Awards for Single Malt Miyagikyo
None at present

More items here.

3.Tours and Visitor Centers


The “Nikka’s Whisky Seminar” and “Nikka’s Whisky Seminar Malt Whisky” and the “Nikka’s Whisky Seminar Malt Whisky”.
The “Nikka Whisky Seminar: Blended Whisky” and “Miyagikyo Key Malt Tasting Seminar”.
There are six different seminars: “My Blend Seminar,” “Enjoying Hot Whisky at Home Seminar,” and more, making it a pleasure to visit again and again.

Currently, only advance reservations are accepted, but the plan with seminars is particularly popular, so early reservations are essential.
The reservation for the next month will be released on the 15th of every month, so don’t forget to check back.

3-1. Gourmet Information in the Surrounding Area

If you have come all this way, you cannot miss fresh seafood and beef tongue.

3-2. Sightseeing Lodging

You can also enjoy the historic townscape of Sendai, including the ruins of Sendai Castle and Zuihouden, the mausoleum of the three feudal lords of the Date family, including Date Masamune, the founder of the Sendai domain.

4.Manufacturing specs

In order to differentiate itself from the Yoichi distillery, the distillery has specifications dedicated to producing clean base sake.
The fermentation tank is stainless steel and the line arm of the pot still is set upward, both elements that produce a lighter quality of sake.
While the Yoichi distillery distills by direct heat, this distillery uses indirect heat distillation with steam to thoroughly separate the different types of original sake.
The malt whiskey production line, which was expanded in 1976, is divided into two lines: A and B. The A line is used for the production of malt whiskey, and the B line is used for the production of malt whiskey.
There is a barrel repair workshop at the back of the property, and repairs and recharging are done in the distillery.
About 25 to 30 barrels are repaired or reassembled per day.

Production volume 1,000 to 2,000 barrels per day
Brewing water Subsoil water from the Shinkawa River
Malt Non-peat/light peat (about 4ppm)
Amount brewed 6~10 tons per batch
Malt mill Swiss Buehler 5 roller mill
Saccharification tank Hapman/Cheeman stainless steel fluroy tartan x 2 units
Wort volume 33,000~48,000 liters
Fermentation tanks Daiwa Stainless Steel Industry x 22 units / 33,000~48,000 liters
Pot still (1) First distiller
Miyake Seisakusho bulge type x 4 units (steam coil heating 130°C)
(2) Redistiller
4 bulge type units manufactured by Miyake Seisakusho (heat pan heating)
2 Café-type two column continuous distillation units manufactured by Blair & Co. of the U.K. x 2 units
Cooling system First distillation shell and tube
Shell and tube redistiller
Bottling facilities Yes
Maturing warehouse 26 dunnage/racks

5.Ripening environment

Based on Masataka Taketsuru’s belief that “good whiskey cannot be made without respect for nature,” trees are kept to a minimum and all electric lines are buried underground.
The height of the buildings for each production process is different from each other because it is rational to level the undulating ground and put all the processes in the same building when constructing a building, but in consideration of nature, the original undulations of the land are used.
In this cool and foggy area, maturation proceeds slowly, just like the Yoichi distillery.
There is a small window above the wall, which is left open most of the time, and the distillate is allowed to mature in an environment close to that of nature.

Image credit: Miyagikyo Distillery


If you are interested in learning more about Masataka Taketsuru, here are some books we recommend.

The 2nd Master Blender “Takeshi Taketsuru”

Takeshi” is written in Japanese and hails from Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture.
At the age of 19, he was adopted by his uncle, Masataka Taketsuru.
He graduated from Hiroshima University with a degree in fermentation engineering and joined Nikka in 1949.
In 1970, he was appointed as Director and General Manager of the Production Department.
After serving as managing director, senior managing director, and vice president, he was appointed president in 1985.
He retired from the position of president in 1988, but returned to the position of president in 1992, while also serving as chairman.
In his column, he says that when he was a young man, he ordered and tasted some of the original whiskies from overseas, such as Johnnie Walker and Ballantine, for his later study, and he especially liked the “Royal Household” whisky, which had received an imperial warrant.
He has been a member of the blender team since the 3rd class whisky era, and started his career as a blender with “Special Blend Whisky”, “Round Bottle Nikki”, and “Extra Nikka”.
In 1997 (Heisei 9), he was succeeded as Master Blender by Shigeo Sato.

Image credit: Nikka Whisky official website .

Here are some books we recommend to those who want to know more about “Takekaku威”.

Shigeo Sato, the third generation master blender “Shigeo Sato

Born in 1946.
After graduating from the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyoto University in 1969, he joined Nikka Whisky.
After training and working in quality control and blending at the Yoichi distillery’s research section, he was engaged in the development of apple brandy and cider at the Hirosaki factory.
In 1984, the Production Technology Research Institute and Blender’s Office were established in the Kashiwa factory, and he became chief blender.
In 1997, he became the Master Blender.
In 2001, “Single Cask Yoichi 10years”, which he carefully selected, won the world’s highest award for the first time in Japan.
This was the start of the worldwide Japanese whiskey boom.
After retiring from Nikka, he has been actively involved in training younger whisky distillers and promoting whisky culture.
He was responsible for most of Nikka’s hit products that we are familiar with, such as “From the Barrel,” “Pure Malt,” and “Black Nikka Clear,” which are still very popular products today.
Chief Blender Junichi Sugimoto, looking at the recipe for Black Nikka Clear, which is Shigeo Sato’s masterpiece, described it as “the recipe that Sato left behind was a perfect blend with nothing to change.
Here are some books we recommend for those who want to learn more about Shigeo Sato.

Hiroshi Yamashita, the 4th Master Blender “Hiroshi Yamashita”.

Born in 1947 in Hakodate, Hokkaido.
He served as President and Chairman of Nikka Whisky.
He joined Nikka Whisky in 1970.
He served as General Manager of the Production Department, General Manager of the Nishinomiya Factory, and Deputy General Manager of the Asahi Breweries, Ltd. alcoholic beverage business division.
In 2002, he became Executive Officer of Asahi Breweries, Ltd. and President and Representative Director of Nikka Whiskey Co.
In 2010, he became Chairman of the Board and Representative Director of Nikka Whisky Company, Ltd. In the same year, he became the 4th Master Blender.
He became an advisor to Nikka Whisky in 2012.

Chief Blender

Junichi Sugimoto
Tetsushi Hisamitsu
Tadashi Sakuma

7.Other Distilleries List

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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.

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