Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo
Plans have just been announced to set up a new craft distillery in Kyoto. The company behind the distillery is Number One Drinks Company Japan, which is a re-invention of Number One Drinks Co. – i.e. David Croll and Marcin Miller, who have been exporting fine Japanese whiskies since 2006 – with the addition of Marius Vestnes of Cask Owners as a third partner to spearhead the company’s distribution in Scandinavia.
Alex Davies – of Chase and Cotswolds Distillery fame – will be the head distiller, assisted by Yoichi Motoki, who has been in the drinks industry for over 20 years, including a period spent distilling in Scotland.
A week doesn’t go by without a new gin being launched somewhere in the world, either as the main product of a distillery or a side-business for new whisky distilleries to create some cash flow, but the founders of Kyoto Distillery are confident theirs will be distinctive enough to make its mark. As Miller says, “The gin category remains dynamics but we are entering a period of natural selection where quality and a genuine backstory of craft and location is becoming increasingly important.” Croll adds: “ Our plan is simply to make the finest gin possible with a focus on Japanese botanicals. We realize that there are plenty of new entrants in the gin category but are confident that, by offering an exceptional spirit with a genuine point of difference, we will attract discerning consumers. Our initial emphasis will be on engaging with the Japanese bartending community and, thereafter, exporting to a small number of markets on allocation only.”
As soon as the stills are in place, we will be making a little visit to Kyoto Distillery, so watch this space.