Slim though this volume might be, it in fact represents an important insight into whisky history as it provided the text, in Japanese, which enabled the pioneers of whisky distilling in Japan to establish and develop what was to become a major, successful industry.
It is the translation into English of the report by Masataka Taketsuru of his time at the Hazelburn Distillery in Campbeltown whereby, during an attachment there of some four months, he was able to research all aspects of whisky manufacture, as recorded in his notebooks, on the basis of which he went on to establish his own company – Nikka Whisky, which has become world-renowned. This report was to form the basis for the emergence of a Japanese whisky industry but also gives an intriguing snapshot of Scotch whisky production in the town which was once at the heart of the industry.
Apart from the actual translation by Ruth Anne Herd, there is an excellent foreward by Professor Alan G Wolstenholme, grandson of the distillery manager, Peter Margach Innes, who was Taketsuru’s mentor, which succinctly puts in place the significance of this piece of written history.
Masataka Taketsuru is often referred to as the "father of Japanese whisky." He is known for establishing the first whisky distillery in Japan and is credited with bringing Scotch whisky production methods to Japan. Upon his return to Japan, he played a significant role in the establishment of the Yamazaki and Yoichi distilleries, which are now part of the Suntory and Nikka whisky companies, respectively. Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt Japanese Whisky is named after him to celebrate this association.
Taketsuru's passion for whisky and his knowledge of Scotch whisky production methods helped shape the Japanese whisky industry. He emphasized the importance of using high-quality ingredients, traditional production techniques, and paying attention to the local climate and terroir to create distinctive Japanese whiskies. His work laid the foundation for the development of Japanese whisky as a highly respected and globally recognized category of whisky.
Further information can be found in a little-known book which appeared in 1998 entitled “Japanese Whisky, Scotch Blend: The Story of Masataka Taketsuru, his Scottish Wife, and the Japanese Whisky Industry” by Olive Checkland and published by Scottish Cultural Press.