The Miyagikyo distillery
Miyagikyo, the second distillery of the Nikka group, is located on the island of Honshu, to the west of the town of Sendai, two hours by high-speed train to the north-east of Tokyo. Built in the foothills of the Miyagi prefecture, at the heart of a region famous for its waterfalls and numerous hot springs, this distillery is a veritable haven of peace.
The site was chosen after more than three years of research by Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of the Nikka group, for the purity of its air and high humidity levels which are ideal for maturation. This environment has more than a few things in common with the Cairngorm regions of Scotland. Only the cherry trees stand as a reminder that we are indeed many thousands of miles away from the Highlands.
The contrast between this luscious nature and the ultra-modern distillery is striking. Here, almost everything is controlled by computer. The malt is imported from Scotland or Australia and the casks are matured over two levels rather than three, because the distillery is located in the centre of an earthquake zone. In the end, Miyagikyo produces a rich, fruity spirit with extremely elegant aromas from its tall stills.
In 1998, a grain distillery housing two Coffey stills - four columns in total - for the production of grain spirit, was built on the same site as the malt distillery. One of the two stills dates from the 19th century. A veritable museum piece, this magnificent copper column produces a traditional grain whisky using maize, not wheat, as is now so seldom the case in Scotland.
Miyagikyo also owns a typical Japanese restaurant, an immense visitor centre and a tasting bar featuring all of the Nikka group’s whiskies. Finally, the area’s numerous ryokans - traditional inns - will ensure you enjoy the local hospitality.