White Oak Distillery Akashi Single Malt Japanese Whisky
Located just a rock’s skip away from Kobe Bay, Eigashima Shuzo (White Oak Whisku Distillery) in Akashi is the closest whisky distillery to the coast in Japan. The ocean-laden air is reflected in the whisky’s savory, saline driven purity. The town of Akashi, translated as ‘Sunrise City,’ dates back over 500 years. Here, less than 100 yards from the ocean, the owner’s family has been making traditional Japanese alcoholic beverages like sake for over three centuries.
Founded in 1888, Eigashima Shuzo holds Japan’s first whisky license, issued in 1919, and remains Japan’s smallest whiskey producer, comprised of a five person team. Serious malt production at this distillery did not begin until 1984, when the current copper pot stills were put into action and a focus on premium whiskies began at their ‘White Oak’ facility. They following a program dedicated to crafting an insanely fine, super sip-able whisky, limiting production to ensure that quality is preeminent.
Sharing a great deal with Scotch in terms of production methods and ingredients, today’s hugely successful commercial market of Japanese Whisky owes much to the research of Masataka Taketsuru. In 1918, this Japanese national travelled to Scotland with the intention of studying organic chemistry but instead became fascinated with Scotch Whisky production. Similar to Scotch Whisky, Japanese Whisky also uses malted barley as the fermentation base and long-term aging in wooden barrels. However, the often-used Mizunara oak, rather than French or American oak, imparts uniquely spicy and citrus-like characteristics to a Japanese Whisky.