In 1918, a young and unassuming young man from Japan decided he wanted to study and earn his college degree abroad.
Masataka Taketsuru study in Edinburgh and earned his degree in chemistry and engineering. While he was in school, his classmates took him out to some local pubs and introduced him to scotch whisky.
He fell in love instantly. With the both the scotch and also with a beautiful, young Scottish girl named Rita.
After graduation, he married that young lady and decided to stay in Scotland. He worked his way into a distillery job and his fascination with whisky and whisky making went to another level!
Meanwhile back in Japan, a man named Shinjiro Torri had been trying to begin making whisky and start that country’s brown spirit industry. Mr. Torri was having mixed results and had heard about his sharp and talented young countryman who was plying his trade in Scotland.
Torri spared no expense in reaching out to Masataka and convincing him and his wife to return to Japan and help him get the Japanese whisky industry, and more specifically Yamazaki, his new distillery, up and thriving.
Masataka succeeded in helping Torri but the two definitely had their differences. Masataka decided to break off and open his own distillery, Nikka. Today both Nikka and Yamazaki are giants of Japanese whiskey.
While many whisky historians credit both as being “Godfathers” of Japanese whisky, the more I’ve read the more I believe that Masataka Taketsuru was the real brains behind the operation and should get the lion’s share of the credit for Japanese whisky being as respected and popular as it is today.
Don’t forget to join us next Thursday, 8/27, at the Warren Main Bar for a celebration of all things Nikka. We’ll be tasting the Straight from the Barrel, Miyagikyo, Yoichi, Days, and my personal favorite: the Nikka Coffey Grain! The tasting starts at 5pm and you may purchase tickets for just $39 on Eventbrite! You don’t want to miss this one!
Come celebrate “the Godfather” with us and enjoy some fabulous spirits!