Sakurao Brewery and Distillery acquired the recreation facility “Yoshiwa Enchanted Village”. It will be developed as a tourist facility with a whisky distillery and is scheduled to open in 2025.
The Chugoku Shimbun Digital reported the following news on 9/8: “Enchanted Village to become a tourist facility equipped with a whisky distillery, to be acquired and developed by Sakurao BD.
It was announced that “Yoshiwa Enchanted Village,” a recreation facility in Yoshiwa that has been closed since March of this year, will be sold to “Sakurao Brewery and Distillery (hereafter, Sakurao B&D),” which operates the Sakurao distillery in the same city. Sakurao B&D plans to develop the distillery as a tourist attraction with a whisky distillery and open it in 2025, which would mean the construction of a second distillery.
- 1. What is Sakurao B&D?
- 2.What is Yoshiwa Enchanted Village?
- 3. plans presented at the time of the closure
- Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky
1. What is Sakurao B&D?
Sakurao B&D, which changed its name from “Chugoku Brewery” to “Sakurao Brewery and Distillery” on March 9, 2021, is a long-established brewery founded in 1918, with its headquarters and production facilities located at 1-12-1 Sakurao, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture.
First, let us review the history of Sakurao B&D’s whisky production.
1-1. Launch of Togouchi whisky (2008)
In fact, the company has a deep history of whisky making. It produced and sold malt whisky from 1938 to 1989. At that time, the distilled spirit was stored in a warehouse in Togawachi, which was constructed from a JR West Japan railroad exploratory tunnel.
In 2008, the company began selling Togouchi whisky, a blend of the original whisky stored in the storage facility in Togouchi and imported original whisky.
1-2. operation of the Sakurao distillery (2018)
In 2018, in order to take on the challenge of new possibilities in sake making, we installed new equipment and established the Sakurao Distillery, a craft distillery that originated in Hiroshima.
1-3. Launch of single malt whisky (july 2021)
1-4. Release of standard single malt “Sakurao” and “Togouchi” (June 2022)
In June 2022, about a year after the first release of single malt whisky, ” Single Malt Cherry Tail (43%)” and ” Single Malt Togouchi (43%) ” will be released as “standard” single malts that will be shipped regularly.
1-5. Blended whisky Togouchi renewed
On September 1, 2023, “Blended whisky Togouchi,” which has been on the market since 2008, will be renewed. Both malt and grain whiskies used in the product are now produced in-house, and the product has been reborn as ” Blended Japanese Whisky Togouchi Premium,” a “100% Japanese” product that complies with the voluntary standards for Japanese whiskies set by the Western Sake Brewers Association.
2.What is Yoshiwa Enchanted Village?
Like Sakurao B&D, Yoshiwa Enchanted Village is located in Hatsukaichi City and was opened in 1994 as a complex facility where visitors can fully enjoy the natural beauty of Yoshiwa.
The facility includes cabins, a hot spring (Suijin-no-yu), restaurant “Mi-waku,” RV park, grass plaza, auto campground and barbecue house, concert hall, special products hall (selling local vegetables and souvenirs), and a ground golf course, and it seems to have been a facility where visitors could enjoy the nature of Yoshiwa to the fullest.
With not only outdoor activities such as camping and barbecues, but also hot springs, a concert hall, and even a concert hall, it is likely that there were many visitors from outside the city as well as Hatsukaichi residents.
The Yoshiwa Enchanted Village closed on March 28, 2023.
The official Instagram page was updated right up to the time of its closure, showing that the park was busy. The reason for the closure has not been announced.
3. plans presented at the time of the closure
The closed Yoshiwa Enchanted Village was subsequently put out to bid for private transfer, and Sakurao B&D was selected as one of the two companies to join the bidding process through a proposal review process.
Hatsukaichi City sold all of the facility’s buildings, including the spa facilities, restaurant, and event house, to Sakurao B&D for approximately 38 million yen. The city will continue to own the approximately 5650 square meter site and will lease it to the company for approximately 3.7 million yen per year.
The site area of approximately 5,650 square meters is close to that of the Yusa distillery in Yamagata (site area of approximately 4,550 square meters), which is relatively compact among recent craft distilleries in the area of existing whisky distilleries.
However, the construction of second and third distilleries by pioneers in the craft distillery industry is steadily underway, with Venture Whisky starting construction of a grain distillery in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, following the Chichibu second distillery, and the Atsugishi distillery planning to build a second distillery in Furano, Japan, and Sakurao B&D is expected to follow in their footsteps. Sakurao B&D will follow in their footsteps.
The distillery will be open to the public for tours of the production process. The distillery will be a new distillery where visitors can tour the distillery and enjoy whisky tasting, and it is expected to be reborn as a whisky distillery with a strong tourism flavor.
All the buildings in the facility, including the spa facilities, restaurant, and event house, will be sold for approximately 38 million yen. The city will continue to own the approximately 5,650 square meter site and will lease it to the company for approximately 3.7 million yen per year.
According to the city, the company will build a new distillery where visitors can observe the whisky production process. The hot spring facilities will be converted into a whisky tasting space, and the restaurant will be converted into a café with a focus on light meals. The company plans to keep the auto-camping site and the ground golf course, but will outsource their operation to another operator.
Sakurao Distillery started operation in 2018, which means that it started making whisky early among craft distilleries. The distillery already has the know-how and knowledge of whisky making, and its name recognition and brand name have already spread both domestically and internationally.
Therefore, it is expected that preparations for the construction and operation of the second distillery will proceed smoothly. However, it is said that the materials necessary for whisky production are becoming more and more difficult to procure due to the soaring prices worldwide.
It will be interesting to see what kind of concept the second distillery will have, but first of all, we are looking forward to its opening in 2025 as scheduled.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.