10. KIRIN (1907)
CHOICE BETWEEN CRAFT & PRODUCTIVITY
Kirin opened thier 1st whisky distillery Fuji Gotenba distillery in 1973. It was the last entry into whisky distillation among big 3 general liquor companies in Japan (Other 2 are Suntory and Asahi Beer , parents company of Nikka).
Fuji Gotenba distillery was designed with a concept focusing on productivity so that they focus on more blended whisky than malt whisky with thier special column still complex and limting to 180L bourbon cask for aging.
Kirin merged Mercian (Former Sanraku Ocean) which had Karuizawa distillery in 2006 but their aim to merge Mercian was wine business which was strong in volume zome segment. In contrast, Karuizawa distillery was specialized to premium malt whisky and it's not interesting for them. Therefor they decided in 2010 to close Karuizawa distillery permanently in 2011.
1973 Fuji Gotenba distillery
Kirin opened thier 1st whisky distillery together as joint company of Seagram (Canada) and Chivas brothers (Scotland).
It was designed with a concept focusing on productivity so that they focus on more blended whisky than malt whisky with thier special column still complex and shorter time cask aging by specializing only to 180L small size cask although other distilleries are using cask from 220L to 500L.
It is also only one distillery in Japan to be designed from start to have both pot still for malt whisky and column still for grain whisky.
Normally grain whisky is for blending purpose to make blended whisky although they are also producing premium grain whisky by special column still complex and released as Single grain whisky.
In add, they are using their own special yeast which all 3 founding companies brought in the beginning. Actually they brought 20 yeast and 5 yeast were chosen to use in Fuji Gotenba distillery.
Kirin distilleries story
Special column still complex 1
Most unique point of Fuji Gotenba distillery is column still complex which is only one in the world. This complex is composed of 4 parts, Beer column (Wash column), multi columns (Spirit columns), Kettle and Doubler.
Firstly wash is distilled by Beer column to low wine which has around 20% alcohol as same as 1st column of normal column still and then transferred to one of the rest 3 parts.
So their special column still complex has 3 different type distillation combination and each one can create different type grain whisky.
Special column still complex 2
Malti columns is continuous production system and almost same with late half of normal column still so that combination of beer still and multi columns are almost same with normal column still and it creates very light grain whisky mainly for blending with malt whisky to make blended whisky.
Kettle is batch production system and very similar with pot still. It creates midium type grain whisky for boht single grain whisky and blending with malt whisky to make blended whisky.
Doubler is also looks similar with pot still but it is continuous production system. Doubler was originally developed by Seagram and it is originally for Bourbon.
It create heavy and powerful grain whisky which is suitable for single grain whisky.
Too elary rice whisky
Rice whisky was establishing new whisky category in US from 2017. However Kirin was producing rice whiksy between 1994 and 1997. It was made from rice and malt without Koji.
They targeted to establish Japanese original whisky but it was too early in that time although there are so many Japanese rice whisky in USA today. Some of them are made from rice and malt, the others are made from rice and koji as same as Shochu/Awamori (Japanese traditional spirit)
Bottle by Kirin