【6/18 Completed】 Komoro Distillery in Nagano Prefecture finally begins distilling.


Three years after the press conference announcement in December 2020.
On June 18 (Sun.), Karuizawa Distillers Manufacturing Co. held a completion ceremony for the Komoro Distillery and started distillation.
The company has invited Mr. Ian Chang, former master blender of “KAVALAN” in Taiwan, who was a big topic at the press conference, and has shown sufficient spirit from his comments at the press conference such as “I want to produce the world’s best whisky in Komoro” and “I want to make Komoro my second hometown”.
The Chief Educator and Brand Advisor will also be IWSC trustee and renowned whisky critic Eddie Ludlow.

1.Karuizawa Steamship Manufacturing Co.

CEO: Mr. Takashi Shimaoka (former executive officer of a foreign investment bank)
Vice President: Mr. Ian Chan (*1) (former Master Blender of KAVALAN distillery)

(*1) Ian Chang: Kavalan Master Blender, Brand Ambassador, Head of Research and Development, Director of Overseas Market Development. 2015 Icons of Whisky, sponsored by Paragraph Publishing, UK, He was awarded Master Distiller of the Year and World Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year at the same awards in 2017.
His mentor was the late Jim Swan, the Einstein of the whisky industry.

Image source: Karuizawa Distillers

2.Matured Casks

In addition to bourbon and sherry casks, they also use Mizunara oak and Jim Swan’s eponymous STR casks.
(STR casks are casks that have undergone the three processes of Shaved (cutting), Toasted (heating), and Re-charred (quenching). The process involves removing the cask ends from the cask, shaving the inside of the cask, then toasting the inside of the cask with oak chips and re-charring it to maximize flavor extraction).

3.Visitor Center

The distillery is integrated with the visitor center, which was designed by Mr. and Mrs. Sogo, winners of numerous good design awards.
The first floor houses the BAR and store, while the second floor houses the Academy classrooms where visitors can learn about whisky.
They say the entire facility is designed to have a view of the Forsyth pot stills.
The Visitor Center will open on July 23, and there are plans for events before and after the opening. On July 1, a special preview will be held for local residents as “Komoro Folk Day.
Click here for Akira and Asami Sogo’s website.

4.Where World Whisky Forum will be held

World Whisky Forum (WWF) is a big event in the whisky world held once every 18 months.
Anyone involved in whisky production, from small producers to major corporations, can participate.
It is an important event in the whisky world where people can share knowledge and opinions about whisky and business, and expand their networks.

There are also many fascinating opportunities for tasting rare whiskies at the event.

This is a very core event where the theme of each talk is set and the professional discussion can be seen.
The theme of the last event was “Sustainable” and the content was quite maniacal, such as the impact of global warming on barley and the current state of oak plantations for barrel milling.
The next WWF will be held in February 2024 at the Komoro Distillery.
Participants from all over the world are expected to attend the WWF next year, and we can’t wait to see what the theme of the talk will be and why Japan.



Komoro City in Nagano Prefecture has been producing brewed sake and wine, but this will be the first time to produce distilled spirits. The natural environment of Komoro is suitable for whisky production, including water, which is indispensable for whisky making.
We look forward to the day when Japanese whisky produced in Komoro will be introduced to the world.

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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Japanese Whisky Dictionary