Komoro Distillery planned to honour famous Karuizawa

Ian Chang, former Master Distiller of Kavalan, joins the project


Karuizawa whiskies are now sought-after collector's items and regularly fetch proud prices at auctions. No wonder: the Japanese Karuizawa Distillery was mothballed in 2000 and demolished after being sold in 2012. The newly founded company Karuizawa Distillers now announced that it will keep the familiar name alive. A new distillery is planned to honour the Karuizawa legacy.

The construction of the Komoro Distillery at the foot of the Asama mountain is to begin in spring 2021 and the first new make should flow out of the stills just one year later. However, these stills will be just as new as the distillery itself, which is being built under the direction of architect Akira Sogo: the original equipment from the Karuizawa Distillery is no longer available. There are no plans for a large distillery, quantities of one tenth of the output of the Yamazaki Distillery, which has an annual capacity of around 6 million liters, are being discussed. Being situated 910 meters above sea level, the Komoro distillery will be the highest distillery in Japan.

The founders of the Karuizawa Distillers, Koji and Yoshie Shimaoka, could win none other than Ian Chang for the project. The former master distiller from Kavalan will be responsible for the development and production of the new whisky in his position as vice president, master blender and distiller. The future brand name of the whisky has not yet been announced.

“I am very excited to be able to continue my passion for whisky making in such a well-respected whisky market as Japan. My late mentor, of 12 years, Dr Jim Swan, always said that whisky making is about the perfect fusion of the right people in the right place, at the right time,“ Ian Chang said. “I know that with the incredible team we have in place, the abundant local natural resources, and the commitment from the local government, we can bring a brand new chapter of world-class whisky making back to the Karuizawa region.”

Images: Karuizawa Distillers