[Review] Nikka Tsuru (distillery only)

Whisky Review
Whisky Review
Nikka WhiskyYoichi DistilleryMiyagikyo Distillery

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka and known as the “father of Japanese whisky” , put all his skill and pride into creating this blended whisky as the culmination of his passion for whisky, and named it after himself as his last work. A crane stands in the northern land. The supple shape of the bottle represents the graceful, soft, yet dignified figure of the crane. It is the pinnacle of Nikka’s blended products. It is sold only at Yoichi Distillery and Miyagikyo Distillery.


1. Manufacturer

Nikka whisky corporation

Head office4-31, Minami-Aoyama 5-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8616, Japan
Owned distilleriesYoichi Distillery, Miyagikyo Distillery, Ben Nevis Distillery

2. Distilleries

Yoichi Distillery

Location 7-6 Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido 046-0003, Japan
Start of operation 1936

The Yoichi Distillery in Hokkaido is known as the Scotland of Japan. The distillery was established in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, aka Masan, whose predecessor, Dainippon Fruit Juice Co. Masataka Taketsuru believed that a place similar to Scotland Cool and humid climate, rich water source and clear air Masataka Taketsuru chose Yoichi, located at the base of the Shakotan Peninsula, west of Otaru, from among various candidate sites. Masataka Taketsuru’s goal for his first distillery was to create a heavy and powerful malt whisky. He was determined to replicate the whisky-making methods he had learned at the distilleries of Scotland, without compromise. The symbol of this dedication is the “Straight head type pot still” The symbol of this dedication is the use of “direct coal fire distillation” . The result is a heavy, fragrant, heavily peaty raw material that produces a unique single malt with the aroma of peat and a touch of saltiness. This distillation method is based on the method used at Longmorn Distillery, where Taketsuru himself studied. If it is necessary to make real whisky, we will protect it even if it is inefficient. Such passion, which can be said to be the origin of Nikka Whisky, and Masataka Taketsuru’s dream have been handed down to this day.

Click here for the official website of Yoichi Distillery

For more information on the Yoichi Distillery, please also see this article.


Miyagikyo Distillery

Location 1 Nikka, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, 989-3433, Japan
Start of operation 1969

It has been about 30 years since the first distillery was started in Yoichi, Hokkaido. Masataka Taketsuru, who believed that “whisky becomes richer and more flavorful when it is blended with raw materials from different distilleries” ,desperately needed a second distillery. Taketsuru chose Miyagikyo in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a lush green gorge blessed with two clear streams, the Hirose River and the Shin River. When Taketsuru visited this place for the first time, he drank some of his Black Nikka in the clear water of the Shin River and confirmed the taste. It is said that he decided to build the distillery on the spot. The pride of the Miyagikyo Distillery is its “café-style continuous distiller”. At the time of its introduction, this distiller was already considered obsolete. Because it was an old-fashioned distillation machine, it was prone to leaving behind miscellaneous flavors, but Taketsuru chose to use this old-fashioned distillation machine because the technology could transform them into the original aroma and sweetness of the ingredients. At the Miyagikyo Distillery, people who have inherited Taketsuru’s passion are still continuing to make various attempts to make whisky taste better.

Image credit: Miyagikyo Distillery|NIKKA WHISKY

For more information on the Miyagikyo Distillery, please see this article.

3. Product name and photo



4. Characteristics

Details of the original spirit, maturing barrels and number of bottles sold are unknown.

The blender is different, indicating that the blend is different from that of “Tsuru 17 years” , which has been discontinued. There is a young impression of the original sake, and the aging and smoky flavors are suppressed. It features a small amount of young Yoichi sake, aged Miyagikyo sake and perhaps a sweetness from the café grain.

It tastes different from Tsuru 17 years, which is said to be the best Nikka blended, but there is no doubt that Tsuru Non-Age is also a very well-balanced bottle.

4-1. Tasting Notes

NoseSoft peaty aroma, dry and gorgeous. Sweet fruitiness and woodiness.
TasteSpicy oak aroma and sweetness like apples and oranges. Youthfulness of the original and sweetness of the grain coexist.
AftertasteSmoky and sweet. The caramel sweetness and the oaky aroma linger for a long time.

4-2. Product Specifications

Alcohol content43%
alcohol categoryBlended whisky
Number of bottles soldLimited to Yoichi distillery and Miyagikyo distillery
Suggested retail price13,200 yen (tax included)
Release date2016

5. Awards

No awards have been received at this time.

6. Price

6-1. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price


Product nameNikka Tsuru
Suggested retail priceTax included: 13,200 yen

6-2. Resale price on Mercari

Resale price on Mercari is Around 12,500 yen to 18,000 yen TSURU has become (*As of December 23, 2021)
The selling price is a little higher than the regular price, but considering the transportation cost to go to Miyagikyo distillery and Yoichi distillery, it might be a good deal.

6-3. Sold price on Yahoo Auction

Sold price on Yahoo Auction is Lowest bidder: 11,000 yen, Highest bidder: 20,000 yen, Average bidder: 15,671 yen (*as of December 23, 2021)


6-4. Rakuten, Yahoo Shopping, Amazon

At the mail order site, it is sold at 2 Around 3,000 yen to 27,000 yen It is sold at (*as of December 23, 2021)

6-5. Price offered at BAR Shinkai

At “BAR SHINKAI”, which is operated by this site, it is available at 1 glass, 45ml: 3,960 yen, 30ml: 2,640 yen, 15ml: 1,320 yen (*As of December 23, 2021) It is available at


7. Summary

Currently, it is sold in small quantities only at Yoichi Distillery and Miyagikyo Distillery. The blend and the original alcohol may be different from the “Tsuru 17 years” which has been discontinued, but both are definitely worthy of being called Nikka’s best blended beer.

As I mentioned above, the details of the raw alcohol and barrels used are unknown. My guess is that it is probably young Yoichi, aged Miyagikyo, and café grain. I had the impression that the youthfulness of the Yoichi, the aged Miyagikyo, and the Cafe Grain were a perfect match.

If you search for “crane” , you will get a hit for “Taketsuru” , so it is a bottle that is not well known. The availability of this whisky is limited to distilleries, so there are probably very few people who have seen it.

It is a whisky with a very high level of perfection, and I hope that many people will learn about it and try it.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me. [clink url=https://jpwhisky.net/single-malt-miyagikyo-4955/][clink url=https://jpwhisky.net/single-malt-yoichi-1936/]


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.

新海 博之

Born July 17, 1981 in Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido, Japan
After graduating from university, joined NTT Data Customer Service Corporation as a new graduate.
2010: Opened "Azabujuban BAR Shinkai" → 2016: Developed specialty "Yakuzen Curry" → 2018: Opened "Toranomon BAR Shinkai" and in 2019 "Shibadaimon BAR Shinkai" → 2020: Started web media "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".
We will daily communicate the appeal of Japanese whiskey as something we, as bartenders, can do.

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Japanese Whisky Dictionary