Since shuttering in 2011 after 56 year of operation, Karuizawa Distillery bottles have become some of the hottest items on the Japanese Whisky market, and now Komoro Distillery looks to honor the tiny, former distillery’s legacy with the creation of the highest distillery in Japan. Master blender and distiller Ian Chang, previously of Taiwan’s Kavalan, has also revealed he is joining the team.
Komoro Distillery is part of Karuizawa Distillers Inc, which was formed by Karuizawa hotel-owners and residents, husband and wife team, Koji and Yoshie Shimaoka. Karuizawa is a resort town in the mountains near Nagano, Japan. The new distillery is set to be built at 910 metres above sea-level at the base of Mount Asama. Construction is set to begin in early 2021, with distillation beginning is Spring 2022.
The newly-formed Karuizawa Distillers Inc aim is to make the best Japanese single malt Whisky, in the most environmentally friendly way possible, whilst honoring and protecting the legacy of the Karuizawa name. In order to properly honor that legacy, they’ve brought aboard multi award-winning distiller Ian Chang. He will manage the full production process including a wood maturation program utilising Mizunara Japanese Oak as well as STR and Sherry casks.
“I am very excited to be able to continue my passion for whisky-making in such a well-respected whisky market as Japan,” said Ian Chang. “My late mentor, of 12 years, Dr Jim Swan, always said that whisky-making is about the perfect fusion of the right people in the right place, at the right time. I know that with the incredible team we have in place, the abundant local natural resources, and the commitment from the local government, we can bring a brand-new chapter of world-class whisky-making back to the Karuizawa region.”
The Komoro Distillery aims to establish itself as a new benchmark in Japanese whisky. The state-of-the-art contemporary distillery, in the north of Komoro, and designed by architect Akira Sogo, is situated just 800 metres from the abundant water source, ‘Noma’. The site will comprise the distillery, a visitor center and a world class Whisky academy.
“Karuizawa whisky is a global symbol of the rich nature and history of our local area,” commented Koji Shimaoka, Founder and CEO of Karuizawa. “I want to protect and honour this great name, whilst creating a new ‘legend’ in the place I have called home for over 20 years.”