Venture Whisky is a renowned craft distillery known for its exceptional Ichiro's Malt whisky. Founded by Ichiro Akuto in 2004, the distillery is located in Chichibu, Japan, and has gained global recognition for its dedication to craftsmanship and innovation.
Recently, at the esteemed World Whiskies Awards 2023, Ichiro's Malt earned the prestigious title of the world's finest blended, limited-release whiskey. This accolade solidifies Ichiro's Malt as one of the leading brands in the realm of Japanese craft whiskies, while its visionary founder, Ichiro Akuto, is often hailed as a revered figure in the Japanese whisky industry.
Situated in Chichibu, a city within the Saitama prefecture, the company has ambitious plans to acquire a 6.6-hectare site for a new distillery located in the Tomakomai Eastern Area of Hokkaido, specifically south of Sapporo. This strategically chosen industrial zone spans across parts of Tomakomai, Atsuma, and Abira, providing a favorable environment for the distillery's expansion. With an anticipated annual production capacity of approximately 2.4 million liters of grain whisky, sourced from corn and other cereal grains, the company aims to meet the growing demand for their renowned spirits.
The decision to establish a distillery in Hokkaido was initiated by the company three to four years ago. The chosen location near a port was deliberate, ensuring convenient importation of raw materials from North America and other regions, as well as facilitating the exportation of their exquisite whisky products to enthusiasts around the world. In addition they chose Hokkaido as they needed a large amount of space because grain whisky would require a larger site than malt whisky. This strategic move demonstrates Ichiro's Malt's commitment to delivering exceptional quality while expanding its reach to global markets.
Notably, they will incorporate Coffey stills, a distinctive choice uncommon among Japanese whisky makers, along with dedicated storehouses. This ambitious endeavor is estimated to require a significant investment of several billion yen (equivalent to tens of millions of dollars). While Coffey stills may be less efficient and more challenging to operate compared to modern counterparts, their usage imparts a captivating and multifaceted flavor profile to the spirits produced.
Strategically located in the Tomakomai Eastern Area of Hokkaido, the distillery enjoys convenient proximity, just a short 15-minute drive from New Chitose Airport. The decision to establish their presence in this region reinforces the suitability of Hokkaido for whisky production. This pioneering move by a craft whisky industry leader signifies a significant milestone and contributes to raising the area's prominence and reputation. Yasuhiro Tsuji, the president of Tomatoh, the developer of the area, expressed his delight, stating that the arrival of a craft whisky pioneer in Hokkaido serves as a testament to the region's whisky-making potential and will undoubtedly enhance its visibility.
Hokkaido is home to not only Venture Whisky's upcoming distillery but also Nikka Whisky Distilling's renowned Yoichi distillery. The presence of these prominent whisky producers further solidifies Hokkaido's position as a key destination for whisky enthusiasts.
Venture Whisky takes pride in its unique approach to whisky production, notably utilizing barrels made from mizunara Japanese oaks (Quercus crispula) sourced from Hokkaido. These mizunara barrels impart a distinctive character to the whisky, imbuing it with a robust and aromatic quality. Recognizing the value of this local resource, the company intends to continue procuring mizunara barrels, showcasing the authentic flavors they bring forth. Additionally, Venture Whisky is exploring the possibility of using corn grown in Hokkaido for whisky production, a venture that not only contributes to the promotion of local agricultural products but also offers a unique whisky experience.
During a visit to Chichibu City Hall in mid-April, Ichiro Akuto, the founder of Venture Whisky, received high praise from Mayor Atsushi Kitabori. The mayor commended the company for its global recognition and the establishment of a renowned whisky brand in Chichibu, highlighting the significant impact of Venture Whisky's dedication and success in the local community.