Established in 2017 by Komasa Jyozo, a 138-year-old producer of shochu, a Japanese white spirit, Komasa Kanosuke Distillery launched its first single malt whisky in June this year. The release of this three-year old whisky will be followed by further limited cask-strength releases before the expected launch of its flagship single malt brand in 2022.
The investment from Diageo will support the next stage of the company’s growth by enabling increased production of whisky, the development of new products, and the expansion of its international sales and marketing teams.
Diageo – whose whisky brands include Johnnie Walker, Bulleit and Crown Royal - eyes up the potential of the ‘fast-growing’ Japanese whisky category.
Kanosuke Distillery single malt whisky is distilled, matured and bottled in Kyushu, the most southerly of Japan’s four main islands. The Komasa family were pioneers in barrel-ageing shochus and bring this expertise in maturation to the production of Kanosuke Distillery’s whiskies.
Situated on Japan’s longest sand beach, the distillery features a tasting room called The Mellow Bar, allowing visitors to appreciate the sun setting into the East China Sea as they sample the distillery’s whiskies.
The distillery has already won awards from the World Whisky Awards (Best Japanese New Make in 2019 and 2020) and the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition (2019 and 2021).
Distell Ventures is an independently operated and Diageo- backed drinks accelerator. As with all brands within the Distill Ventures portfolio, the founders, Komasa Jyozo Co., Ltd, will retain majority ownership and control of the Kanosuke Distillery and continue to be responsible for all production, marketing and sales.
The investment agreement envisages a transition to a 50:50 joint-venture ownership structure with Diageo subject to future performance. Until that point, Kanosuke Distillery will benefit from the support and global expertise of Diageo and the Distill Ventures team.
The Distell Ventures portfolio already includes Denmark’s Stauning Whisky, Australia’s Starward Whisky and Oregon’s Westward American Single Malt Whiskey.