Komasa Kanosuke Distillery, a producer of ultra-premium single-malt whiskies based in Kagoshima, Japan, today announces that Diageo has made a minority investment in the company, through Distill Ventures, the independently operated and Diageo- backed drinks accelerator. The investment will support the next stage of the company’s growth by enabling increased production of whisky, the development of new products, and the expansion of its international sales and marketing teams.
Established in 2017 by Komasa Jyozo, a 138-year-old producer of shochu, a Japanese white spirit, Komasa Kanosuke Distillery launched its first single malt whisky in June this year. The release of this three-year old whisky will be followed by further limited cask-strength releases before the expected launch of its flagship single malt brand in 2022. The distillery has already won awards from the World Whisky Awards (Best Japanese New Make in 2019 and 2020) and the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition (2019 and 2021).
Kanosuke Distillery single malt whisky is distilled, matured and bottled in Kyushu, the most southerly of Japan’s four main islands. The Komasa family were pioneers in barrel-ageing shochus and bring this expertise in maturation to the production of Kanosuke Distillery’s whiskies. Situated on Japan’s longest sand beach, the distillery features a stunning tasting room called The Mellow Bar, orientated to allow visitors to appreciate the sun setting into the East China Sea as they enjoy the distillery’s whiskies.
Yoshitsugu Komasa, founder and CEO of Kanosuke Distillery said: “We are proud of our accomplishments to date, including the barrel-ageing and other production techniques developed during Komasa Jyozo’s long history of shochu production and the awards we have won in both domestic and international competitions. Now, with the strong and strategic support from global alcoholic beverages leader Diageo and Distill Ventures through this partnership, we are very happy that we will be able to pursue growing our business further and provide more whisky drinkers in Japan and worldwide with Japanese craft whiskies from Kanosuke Distillery.”
Frank Lampen, founder and CEO of Distill Ventures, said: “It’s a proud moment for us to have entered into this partnership with this exciting new distillery. Yoshitsugu Komasa and his team are producing wonderful whiskies in a stunning distillery with one of the most beautiful tasting rooms anywhere in the world, and we’re excited to assist him and the team in introducing Kanosuke Distillery to whisky drinkers around the world.”
Sam Fischer, Diageo’s President Asia Pacific and Global Travel said: “We are honoured that Kanosuke Distillery has joined the Distill Ventures portfolio. Diageo has long heritage and expertise in whisky with many of our brands reflecting the work of generations of the same family. We are excited to be supporting this high-quality brand in the fast-growing Japanese whisky category, with the next stage of its growth and development.”
As with all brands within the Distill Ventures portfolio, the founders, Komasa Jyozo Co., Ltd, will retain majority ownership and control of the Kanosuke Distillery and continue to be responsible for all production, marketing and sales. The investment agreement envisages a transition to a 50:50 joint-venture ownership structure with Diageo subject to future performance. Until that point, Kanosuke Distillery will benefit from the support and global expertise of Diageo and the Distill Ventures team, joining Denmark’s Stauning Whisky, Australia’s Starward Whisky and Oregon’s Westward American Single Malt Whiskey in Distill Ventures’ portfolio of outstanding new world whisky brands.
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