Suntory has just announced their new Hakushu Grain Whisky Facility – part of their Hakushu plant – is in production. It was set up in December 2010. The long testing period is now officially over and grain whisky is being produced there as we write this. It is much smaller than their Chita distillery (SunGrain) – about 1/10th the size – and serves an altogether different purpose. SunGrain will keep supplying Suntory with the bulk of their grain whisky, but the idea with the Hakushu Grain Facility is to use it as a place to experiment with different grains – other than corn, that is – and different grain bills and to also closely look at other factors influencing the final product (yeast strains, etc) so that they have a wider variety of grain whisky at their disposal in the future to perfect their blends.
This is incredibly exciting news and further proof – if any were needed – that distillers in Japan are not content to rest on their laurels, but are always looking to take their art to a higher level.