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Kanosuke Distillery’s First Single Malt!

What you need to know:

  • Kanosuke Distillery belongs to Komasa Jyozo, which is originally a Shochu maker in Japan. The distillery is located in Kagoshima, which experiences a spectrum of temperatures and faces the sea-side, enjoying salty sea breezes.
  • Shochu is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage distilled from rice, sweet potato, barley. It tastes sweet, earthy, nutty and umami.
  • Kanosuke’s first single malt is aged in Recharred ex-Rice Shochu American White Oak casks, and is a non-peated blend.
  • On the nose, you can expect lime, prunes, raising butter, the palate is of vanilla, cinnamon, mellow wood, and the finish is of orangette bitters and sea spray.



Apart from Matcha, Sake and Highballs, Japan has a wide range of traditional beverages, one of which is Shochu. Shochu is an alcoholic beverage distilled from rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat (or soba) and brown sugar. Sometimes it is even made from chestnut, sesame seeds and even carrots.

A fairly liberally made beverage compared to the likes of whisky, which is predominantly made of barley and to some extent grains and rye.


(Image Source: Sake Inn)

Shochu comes in at around 25% abv, hence it is much weaker than whisky, at between 40% and 55%. It tastes less fruity than its more popular cousin, Sake, and is more nutty, earthy and umami in flavor. Read more about Shochu here

However, we’re not here to talk about Shochu! We’re instead going to talk about a Shochu maker turned whisky distiller from Japan – Kanosuke Distillery!

Kanosuke Distillery finds itself in Kagoshima (which brings to mind really melt-in-your-mouth beef, mmmmm…..Kagoshima Beef), and specifically Satsuma Peninsula, which faces the East China Sea.



The area is called Fukiagehama and overlooks Japan’s longest sand beach, “a beautiful, white strip that stretches as far as the eye can see”. It is one of Japan’s three largest sand dunes and cuts through three municipals.

During the winters, fierce winter winds are famed for whipping up sea spray, a natural feature of the locale that plays a role in the whisky produced at Kanosuke, where it makes its way through the distillery’s aging warehouse.


View of Kagoshima. 

Fickle temperatures through the year also help to accelerate aging of the whiskies produced, with a spectrum ranging from temperate weather all the way to snow-capped winters.

The distillery itself started as a Shochu producer but unfortunately found itself running up against declining interest in the beverage and so had much time on their hands when the distillery was not producing Shochu. This became impetus for a pivot into whiskies.



However, obviously given its proud Shochu roots, the distillery continues to find ways to weave Shochu into their whiskies, such as using ex-Shochu casks to age whiskies.

Most recently the distillery has added grain whisky production capabilities as well, which if you’ve read our post on the new Japanese whisky regulations, you’ll realise just how forward-sighted Kanosuke Distillery is.

Grain whiskies are set to become precious resources as producers of blended whiskies in Japan will have to use locally distilled grain whiskies if they are to retain their “Japanese whisky” label.

This grain whisky will be distilled at their Hioki Distillery, which also produces Shochu.

Now onto the main event you guys have been waiting for, Kanosuke’s First Single Malt!

It is slated to be released in June 2021. 

What we’ve found is that it will be:

  1. Non-Peated
  2. A blend (it has been aged in several varieties of oak barrels, and blended together after 3 years of maturation)
  3. Aged in Recharred ex-Mellowed Kozuru (aged Rice Shochu) American White Oak Casks

Notes include:

Nose:                   Lime, Prunes, Raisin Butter


Palate:                 Vanilla, Cinnamon, Mellow Woody Palate


Finish:                  Slight Bitterness of Orangette, Gentle Sea Breeze


It will weigh in at 58% abv per 700ml bottling.

Our take: 

Kanosuke’s bottlings are highly anticipated because of a resurgence in interest in Japanese craft whisky (or Ji-whisky, we’ve covered it here). Many of these Ji-whisky producers are highly purist and artisanal in their approach to making small batches of whisky.


Home of Kagoshima Beef...mmm....beef.

Often the allure is the uniqueness of these releases, of which they are usually reflective of their heritage, their location, the history of their producers, of local ingredients, which makes for a very storied dram!


Kanosuke has been teasing fans with its smaller bottlings, called New Borns, that have wow-ed the public with just how mature they’re tasting despite being….well, new borns. This is due to the spectrum of temperatures of the Satsuma Peninsula where Kanosuke Distillery is located, which helps the whisky breath during maturation (Source: Nomunication JP).

The other wonderful thing about Ji-whisky is that unlike Scotch, they are not subjected to regulations on what types of casks can be used to mature the whisky in (which is beginning to change).


The ingredients that are used to distill Shochu are liberal to say the least, which lends interesting flavors to whiskies when matured in ex-Shochu casks. (Source: Sake Inn)

In Japan, Shochu casks are permissible which lends really interesting flavors unique to Kanosuke alone, which I’m guessing is the lime, prunes and raisin butter on the nose, the mellow woody palate, and the orangette bitters on the finish.


I suspect the dash of sea spray on the finish will round these earthy flavors well with a good contrast, and make for a very multi-faceted dram. Is it just me or it just reminds me of chocolate cookies with sea salt flakes?

This will be out via lottery, so happy hunting and Kanpai!