Distillery report - Sakurao Distillery

Thank you all for your time. This is the editorial team of RecoMentor.


Do you know how many whisky distilleries there are in Japan today? Currently, there are more than 40 whisky distilleries in operation. That's about one distillery per prefecture. In the future, Recommender would like to actively report on distilleries as well. This time, I would like to report on the Sakurao Distillery in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture.


(formerly Chugoku Jozo Co., Ltd., renamed in 2021), and is currently equipped to produce malt whisky, grain whisky, and gin. In addition to purely domestic Japanese malt whisky, the Sakurao Distillery is also steadily preparing for the launch of purely domestic Japanese blended whisky.


So, among the many Japanese whiskey distilleries, what are the characteristics of the Sakura-o Distillery?

I would like to introduce it as briefly as possible.



First of all, as for the taste characteristics, the Sakurao Distillery aims to create whiskies with fruity and floral flavors such as banana and melon. This taste is a type of taste that is generally described as "estery". The year-round warm climate of the Seto Inland Sea creates a favorable fermentation environment for lactic acid bacteria, and in a short period of time, about three days, the "Moromi" with many of these ingredients is produced.


This "Moromi" is then put into a pot to be heated and vaporized to make whisky with a high alcohol content, and the pot used for heating is called a pot still. The distillery uses two lantern-type pot stills (5.5L for initial distillation and 1.5L for re-distillation) made by Arnold Holstein in Germany. The distillery is making various efforts in the heating method of these pot stills and the stirring mechanism of the mash in order to keep the estery flavor components and eliminate impurities as much as possible.



The distilled whisky is called New Pot, which is then packed into casks and aged for several years. The taste of the whisky changes and evolves depending on the aging environment and the type of cask.


Did you know that the Sakurao distillery has two different maturation environments? Located in the coastal area of Hatsukaichi, the Sakurao distillery's onsite aging cellar directly faces the ocean. In contrast, did you know that an abandoned JR tunnel in Togouchi-cho in the mountains of Hiroshima Prefecture is used as a storage facility? In particular, the maturing environment in the tunnel is a special maturing environment with low temperature and high humidity throughout the year.



The alcohol content of the original New Pot was 59%, but there was a difference in the alcohol content of the first release in July 2021: 52% for the whisky matured for three years in Togouchi, and 54% for the whisky matured in Sakurao. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of whisky will be created by combining the raw materials grown in two different maturing environments.


One more thing, the Sakurao distillery is working to produce all of its malt from Hiroshima. With the cooperation of the town of Sera in Hiroshima Prefecture, we have begun trial production of various types of barley and rye. The need to procure stable and constant amounts of raw materials over the long term will lead to stable agricultural demand and contribute to the community. It is also an initiative that will surely contribute to the value of the product itself in the future.


I felt that this is one of the whisky distilleries that we can look forward to in the future, both in terms of production environment and production strategy.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Takeuchi, General Manager of the Corporate Planning Department, for his detailed explanation.