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Nikka Whisky Distilling was founded in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, the son of a Sake-maker, who was so determined to discover the Scottish secrets of whisky production he travelled to Scotland in 1918. He was to become the first Japanese whisky distiller to master distilling techniques used in Scotland.
Having spent time at Longmorn and Hazelburn (as well as the University of Glasgow's chemistry department), Taketsuru had observed and recorded every detail of the whisky making process. When he left Scotland, he took with him a wealth of whisky know-how, plus a new Scottish bride! Upon his return, Taketsuru had a key role to play in Japan's whisky industry.
Alongside Shinjiro Torii, Taketsuru helped to found Yamazaki Distillery, the first purpose-built whisky distillery in Japan, and the start of what would become the Suntory company. Resolute on going his own way, Taketsuru left Torii's company to establish Yoichi Distillery in 1934 – when the precursor to Nikka Distilling Company was formed.
Yoichi was later followed by Miyagiyko in 1969, by which point Nikka and Suntory were established as the two giants of Japanese distilling, with Torii and Taketsuru having turned from colleagues, to deadly rivals.
The two companies continue to dominate Japanese whisky to this day, with Nikka now acclaimed around the world for the quality of its spirit. In 1989, Nikka purchased Ben Nevis distillery, completing a circle in the company's history. There can be no doubt that Taketsuru would be proud to see how far his company, which once had to sell apple juice to survive, has come.