Now a household name around the globe, Japan’s Nikka whisky brand was founded in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru who had travelled to Scotland as a student to learn the secrets of Scotch. In 1920 Taketsuru returned home with a Scottish wife, Rita, and a plan to fuse Scotch whisky-making techniques with Japan’s pristine natural resources.
The Nikka story began at Yoichi, a prime location selected by Taketsuru for its resemblance of the Scottish Highlands; the site sits close to the coast and is ringed by mountains on three sides with a cool climate, crisp sea breezes and perfect humidity. By 1967 the Nikka brand was enjoying considerable success when Taketsuru discovered the perfect site for a second distillery set in a gorgeous foggy glen by the Nikkawa River in the Sendai mountains.
The discovery of Miyagikyo represented the beginning of a new era for Nikka. Many attribute the special qualities of the Miyagikyo distillery to its spectacular setting in the foothills of Miyagi Prefecture on the island of Honshu. The site is set in the mountains between two crystal-clear rivers which provides excellent air quality and humidity for softer and milder malt compared with Nikka’s main distillery at Yoichi close to the sea.
Taketsuru’s vision for Miyagikyo was to allow this stunning site to speak for itself, creating distinctive malt whiskies with their own unique personality. In the distillery at Miyagikyo Nikka uses much larger pot stills than those found at Yoichi which are heated to a lower temperature to enable a slower distillation. These differences in technique enhance and showcase the Miyagikyo terroir, giving an enchanting delicate floral character and a very smooth texture to Nikka’s signature Miyagikyo Single Malt.
As well as being blended into whiskies like the world-famous Nikka Whisky From The Barrel, Miyagikyo is also known for its extremely rare whiskies. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nikka’s second distillery, Miyagikyo, in 2019 the Japanese whisky brand released a remarkable limited edition single malt which has proved irresistible to collectors across the world. Just 700 bottles were released last year with many already snapped up by Japanese whisky aficionados in the U.S. and Asia.
Along with a sister special release, the Single Malt Yoichi Limited Edition 2019, the Single Malt Miyagikyo Limited Edition 2019 has already generated great interest on the international market. The whisky has already won a Gold Medal at the World Whiskies Awards 2019 which is presented by TheDrinksReport.com and is judged by an esteemed panel of leading distillers, spirits journalists and educators.