Akkeshi whisky “Saron Kamui” won the SWSC Grand Gold Award.

Akkeshi Distillery, Kenten Jitsugyo Corporation, a whisky producer in Akkeshi, Hokkaido [Akkeshi], Japan, has been awarded the “Best Gold Award” in the Whisky category Azar Single Malt Whisky at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SWSC), a world-class liquor competition held in the United States.
In the past, “Yamazaki 25years”, “Yamazaki 18years”, and “Hakushu 18years” were also awarded the same Gold Award, and it is no exaggeration to say that they are on a par with them in receiving this prestigious award.

The following is an excerpt from a Hokkaido Shimbun article.

1.「San Francisco World Spirits Competition」(SWSC)

It is the largest and most international liquor competition in the U.S., sponsored by Tasting Panel Magazine, a U.S. liquor trade publication, and other organizations.
The event consists of four categories including “Whiskey,” “Brandy,” and “White Spirits,” and each category is further subdivided into several categories. This year will be the 20th time the event has been held.
More than 40 hoteliers, bartenders, restaurateurs, distribution buyers, journalists, and other representatives from a wide range of fields conduct a rigorous blind tasting to select the best Gold (Double Gold), Gold (Gold), Silver (Silver), and Bronze (Bronze) awards in each category.

Major Japanese whiskeys that have received the Grand Gold Award in the past
Yamazaki 25years, Yamazaki 18 years, Yamazaki 12 years, Hakushu 18 years, Hakushu 12 years, Hibiki 12 years, Hibiki JAPANESE HARMONY.

2.About Akkeshi Distillery

Opened in November 2016.
When most people hear the word “Akkeshi,” they probably first think of oysters. Akkeshi is the only oyster-producing region in Japan that can produce oysters year-round.
Akkeshi is located in the eastern part of Hokkaido, about halfway between Kushiro City and Nemuro City. It takes about 50 minutes from Kushiro by car and about 5 hours from Sapporo by train. So, why did we build a whiskey distillery in such an oyster town “Akkeshi”?
The “desire” and “commitment” are great.

①Good climate for whisky making
Cool and humid climate, prone to sea fog, high temperature differences throughout the year, fast ripening rate.

②The brewing water is taken through the peat layer.
Hokkaido was the only place to make whiskey with water that passed through peat layers, like the distilleries on Islay in Scotland.

③Japan’s main peat production area is Hokkaido
Peat is essential for making Islay’s smoky whiskey. Peat is mainly extracted in Japan from Hokkaido.

The place that met these requirements was Akkeshi in Hokkaido.

As an aside, this is what it is like to go by train. You will take a one-car “Kaisoku Nosup” train bound for Nemuro from Kushiro. The train is surrounded by trees on both the left and right, and the scenery continues like this for about 50 minutes. As you can see, the train tracks are single-track, so naturally, trains cannot cross each other.

3.Akkeshi Distillery’s Commitment

I visited the Akkeshi distillery in the summer of 2019. During that visit, we were able to ask about the distillery’s “specialties”.

①Thorough quality control
Mr. Tatsuzaki, who is in charge of the Akkeshi distillery, used to work for a certain dairy company and has experience in milk production, so he is a professional among professionals when it comes to hygiene control in beverage production. He has applied this know-how to the Akkeshi distillery, and is thoroughly managing the sanitation.

②Equipment is made in authentic Scotland.
We knew from prior information that the distillers at Akkeshi Distillery had installed authentic Scottish Forsyth distillatio.
At the time of installation, dozens of technicians from Scotland came to Japan, and the entire installation and assembly work was done by Forsyth.When I actually saw this pot still in front of me, I was impressed once again by Akkeshi Distilling’s commitment to excellence, wondering how they managed to transport such a large pot still from Scotland.

③Aiming for All-Hokkaido
Currently, imported barley is used as a raw material, but in the future, they aim to use Hokkaido barley and Hokkaido peat to make an all Hokkaido whiskey as a raw material.

We feel “commitment” in all aspects of quality control and hygiene management that control raw materials, equipment necessary for production, and the manufacturing process.
When I actually tasted the freshly distilled New Pot, I was impressed by its “sweetness and flavor.
The “sweetness” that one would not expect from a new pot, and the unique “flavor” that is different from the others are also very nice, and I felt that this “particularity” will be the key to Akkeshi whiskey in the future.

The only place in the distillery where photos can be taken is in the aging room, so this is the only photo available.
For details of the distillery tour, see 
 the distillery tour report.

4.About Akkeshi Whiskey “Saron Kamuy”

After opening in 2016, it finally became a single malt whisky after 3 years of aging.
I think everyone already knows its popularity.

The product name is “Saron Kamui” (meaning “god in the marsh” in Ainu, referring to the red-crowned crane).
The bottle is pure white, exactly reminiscent of a red-crowned crane.
This Sarongkamui will be Lightly Peaked.
The barrels used were bourbon, sherry, red wine, and oak barrels.
Akkeshi whisky has become even rarer than last time.
It seems that the Akkeshi distillery is planning to release its first 700 ml capacity single malt in October, which is sure to attract even more attention in the future.