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Kiyokawa offers whisky casks for sale

Japan’s first farm-to-bottle producer, Kiyokawa, is preparing to launch its inaugural whisky next year and is offering casks for sale through Dekantā.

Kiyokawa produces whisky at its Iiyama Mountain Farm Distillery

Kiyokawa was founded in 2019 by David Troiano but is relatively unknown outside of its home country. The brand is preparing to launch its first whisky next year from its Iiyama Mountain Farm Distillery, located in the mountains of Nagano.

The company said the idea of creating whisky directly from farm to bottle is difficult to achieve in Japan as barley farming is not widespread, and the climate of heavy snowfall and hot summers provides a challenge.

However, the distillery managed to grow mountain barley with the help of a local scientist after many failed attempts. Together, they created a crossbreed of barley that could withstand the area’s extreme conditions while holding the ‘ideal characteristics’ for whisky production.

During winter, the barley lies under up to three metres of snow, before slowly standing back up, with its golden colour returning once the snow has melted, the distillery said.

The distillery has also installed two 5,000-litre pot stills that were imported from Italy.

Kiyokawa is producing whisky matured in both Marsala casks, sourced directly from Italy, and oloroso Sherry casks.

The Marsala whisky (62% ABV) offers a ‘warm and sweet’ palate with notes of peach and apricot. Flavours of raisins, black cherries and chocolate can be found in the ‘rich and complex’ oloroso cask.

The distillery is also aiming to achieve an industry first in Japan by maturing its whisky in a Bourbon barrel that was seasoned with orange liqueur.

Kiyokawa is also building a traditional Japanese washi paper production workshop to enable the brand to design its own label at the distillery.

“We like to think we have been as persistent as our barley when producing a quality liquid that best reflects Japan’s terroir and spirit,” said Troiano.

A limited number of single malt whisky casks are available to purchase through retailer Dekantā.

Cask purchases come with opportunities to sample the liquid, visit the distillery, and create an independent bottling of Kiyokawa single malt whisky, once the ageing requirements have been met.

There will also be limited edition releases available from Dekantā in the future.

Last year, we spoke to the founder of Karuizawa Whisky Company on his plans to recreate the revered Japanese brand, and its 10-year partnership with Dekantā.

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