Nagahama in Ohmi Province is a town that makes you feel as if you have slipped back in time to the Sengoku Period. The town prospered as a castle town of Hideyoshi Hashiba, the lord of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's castle. The Nagahama distillery stands in such a castle town full of history. The Nagahama distillery started its business in 1996 as a craft beer brewery with a restaurant in a renovated building of a rice warehouse. Later, after training in Scotland, we added a whisky distillery in 2016 and began producing whisky, which we continue to do today.
They are one of the smallest distilleries in Japan with a production size of one barrel per brewing. This phrase expresses their policy, which is the same as the phrase "one pitch, one soul," which expresses the attitude and spirit of their efforts and products. 400 kg of raw material (malt) is used in one brewing process. From this malt, 200 liters of whiskey, or approximately one barrel of bourbon, is produced daily.
The manufacturing facility is unique in that it is a hybrid of beer production. The raw material, malt, is used in a saccharified layer called the mash tun to produce a sweet brown liquid called wort, and the equipment used for this process is actually the same equipment used for both beer and whisky. In the case of beer, the wort is then boiled to remove bacteria, and beer yeast is added to the wort, which ferments for two weeks to produce the beer we drink.
The fermentation tanks (called washbacks) were set up on the second floor of the building, one for whisky and one for beer, making good use of the three-dimensional space. Another feature of this distillery is the "Arabic" pot stills, which are often used in distilleries with relatively small spaces, and there are three of them (two for initial distillation and one for re-distillation).
According to Mr. Yusuke Yahisa, the blender who explained the process to us, the brewery is a hybrid of beer and whisky, which is why it is characterized by a strong taste of malt-derived grains and produces a malty flavor. The first distillation produces an ethereal aroma reminiscent of green apples and pears in the first distillate (low wine). The yeast used in the fermentation process will be blended with beer yeast in the future to create various flavors and tastes at the unrefined stage.
Did you know that the new whisky produced at the Nagahama distillery is matured in two different aging warehouses? One is the former site of an elementary school. In this beautiful elementary school where you can still hear the cheerful voices of children, there are barrels lined up not only in the corridors and classrooms, but even in the broadcasting room.
Another was a tunnel on an abandoned road in the neighborhood with a row of barrels. All of them are unique approaches to aging whisky by effectively utilizing city-owned land.
The aging process has only recently started in each of the aging rooms, and I am looking forward to seeing how the different aging environments will make the whiskey taste. In the future, there are plans to hold blending workshops and other events to interact with local whisky fans in the former elementary school.
Both whiskey and craft beer lovers can enjoy Nagahama Roman Beer & Nagahama Distillery. It's only a 5-minute walk from JR Nagahama Station while enjoying the atmosphere and sentiment of the city.
At the attached restaurant, you can enjoy local specialties such as Ohmi beef and fish and chips with craft beer or whisky, as well as a wide range of souvenirs. Of course, you can also buy whiskies from the AMAHAGAN series and popular collaboration series. The Ohmi beef curry and beef hash are also recommended as souvenirs and can be purchased online.
If you are already drooling and can't stand it, please visit here.