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Japan's new Komoro Distillery will 'honour Karuizawa's legacy'

Japanese distilling company Karuizawa Distillers Inc. (KDI) has announced the opening of a new distillery in the country with whisky-making pedigree at its heart.

Founded by hotel owners and husband-and-wife team Koji and Yoshie Shimaoka, KDI is named after the now-closed but world-renowned Karuizawa Distillery whose rare liquids are highly sought after.

The Shimaokas dreamt of reviving whisky making locally while honouring and protecting the legacy of Karuizawa, and have pledged to make their operations as environmentally friendly as possible.

At the heart of their business will be a new production facility, Komoro Distillery, which is set to open in 2022. KDI officially launched the project in a ceremony at the Komoro Town Hall on 12 December.

Koji and Yoshie Shimaoka have also announced a major appointment to the KDI team: award-winning distiller and former Kavalan whisky maker Ian Chang.

Mr Chang said: "I am very excited to be able to continue my passion for whisky making in such a well-respected whisky market as Japan. My late mentor, Dr Jim Swan, always said that whisky making is about the perfect fusion of the right people in the right place at the right time. I know that with the incredible team we have in place, the abundant local natural resources, and the commitment from the local government, we can bring a new chapter of world-class whisky making to the Karuizawa region."

Koji Shimaoka added: "Karuizawa whisky is a global symbol of the rich nature and history of our local area. I want to protect and hnour this great name, whilst creating a new 'legend' in the place I have called home for more than 20 years. The Komoro Distillery aims to establish itself as a new benchmark in Japanese whisky."

Positioned in the foothills of Mount Asama, 910m above sea level, the state-of-the-art Komoro Distillery has been designed by architect Akiri Sogo and will comprise the distillery, a visitor centre and a 'whisky academy'. As master blender and distiller, Ian Chang will manage the production process including a maturation with mizunara Japanese oak, as well as STR and sherry casks.

15 December 2020 - Bethany Whymark