Tenkyo Distillery: Authentic whiskey brewed by the climate of Aizu. - Part 2


Tenkyo Distillery: Authentic whiskey brewed by the climate of Aizu. - Part 2

#Pick up

Onuma Takashi/大沼孝 by「天鏡蒸溜所」

Tenkyo Distillery just started operation in March. The inside of the distillery, which is filled with the late founder's passion, is far beyond the realm of "craft! What is the Japanese whiskey that this remarkable distillery is aiming for?

writer:Ryoko Kuraishi

Mr. Keiichi Narita is the chief blender. He is a fermentation professional who has been involved in sake brewing for a long time.

The founder's special equipment that can produce four different types of sake.

Now, let Mr. Takashi Onuma, Executive Director of Tenkyo Corporation, take you inside the Tenkyo Distillery, which just started operation on March 26.

The facility, which was just completed last fall, was renovated from a corner of Eikawa Brewery's bottling plant, and the distillery portion covers an area of approximately 770 square meters.

The plans were drawn by Mr.Koike, his good friend, a Scotsman with whom he toured distilleries, and a Scottish consulting company. The design was rewritten a whopping 19 times.

Koike also decided on the equipment, which was all made by Forsyth, except for a second-hand malt mill.

Koike visited Forsythe many times to work out the detailed specifications.

Two types of fermentation tanks, one made of bay pine and the other of stainless steel, are provided.

A malt mill made by Porteous, which is used by many distilleries in Scotland. Mr. Koike obtained this mill from a local friend.

As for the pot stills, a total of four pot stills are installed, two for the first distillation pot and two for the second distillation pot, and the first distillation pot is direct-fire cooking!

Mr. Koike's belief that "it is the open flame that makes the food taste good" led him to use an open flame instead of electricity.

Furthermore, the cooling system for the first distillation and the second distillation are of different specifications: a worm tab on one side and a shell-and-tube condenser on the other.

The design allows for four different sake qualities.

The design, which goes beyond the realm of "craft," was also a result of Mr. Koike's strong desire to work with all kinds of sake qualities.

When Lion Doll Corporation President Koike and the late Shunsuke Koike launched the whiskey business, their vision was to "create sake that would last for 300 years.

It is true that it is not on the scale of a craft brewery, but considering the future 300 years from now, I think this scale and facilities were necessary," says Mr. Onuma.

Four Forsyth pot stills were installed: two first distillation kettles and two redistillation kettles.

Sake quality reminiscent of Scotland x Aizu's regional characteristics.

With all these facilities, Mr. Onuma and the production staff at Tenkyo Distillery are conscious of the fact that the concept and the quality of the sake must match perfectly, and that they must incorporate regional characteristics.

The goal is to create a scotch that Mr. Koike fell in love with.

At the same time, we want to reflect the "regional character" of Japanese whiskey, in other words, the climate of Aizu.

The chief blender, Keiichi Narita, is an engineer at Eisen Sake Brewery, which has been brewing sake in the area for a long time, and is also a certified toji (master brewer), or specialist in fermentation.

He says, "We use wooden fermentation tanks, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the microorganisms living in them, such as lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast, will work.

It was just distilled for the first time on April 1.

Fermentation specialists apply their knowledge.

We would like to emulate the attitude of the Chichibu Distillery, for example, which values local initiatives in addition to sake brewing," says Mr. Onuma.

The main ingredients are domestic malt and Scottish barley, but "we will eventually produce products that focus on barley from Aizu," which is an indication of the company's attitude of valuing regional characteristics.

...... and the whisky from "Tenkyo Distillery" are raising expectations, and since Mr. Koike aimed for long-term aging, they plan to release a product that has been aged for 10 years.

Until then, please enjoy the blended whiskey "Kaze" introduced in the first part, says Mr. Onuma.

Tasting "Kaze" with Mr. Onuma, a blend of several original wines, which will likely be released in limited quantities until 2026.

The new make purchased in Scotland is casked in Aizu, and perhaps because of the basin's unique climate with its extreme temperature differences, the aging process is more advanced than expected.

The 1.5 year old sherry cask we tasted had a spicy aroma reminiscent of cinnamon.

The 2.5 year old sherry cask had a unique aroma with sweet fruit nuances and smoothness, and I was surprised at its perfection.

Even the technicians invited from Scotland have not yet been able to elucidate the mechanism of this phenomenon.

Currently, they are replacing barrels as needed for those that have matured beyond expectations, and they will continue to control the aging process to determine the best timing.

Mr. Onuma says, "We, who have inherited Shunsuke Koike's dream and passion, would like to produce Japanese whiskey unique to Aizu and deliver its appeal to the world.