Diageo Invests in Japanese Distillery

Diageo has disclosed a minority investment in Komasa Kanosuke Distillery, based in Kagoshima, Japan.

The deal took place 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, the company says.

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Established in 2017 by Komasa Jyozo, a 138-year-old producer of shochu, 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 offerings, before the expected launch of its flagship single malt brand in 2022.

“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,” says Yoshitsugu Komasa, founder and CEO of Kanosuke Distillery. “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.”

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. They will retain responsibility for all production, marketing and sales.

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“It’s a proud moment for us to have entered into this partnership with this exciting new distillery,” says Frank Lampen, founder and CEO of Distill Ventures. “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.”

Yoshitsugu Komasa, founder and CEO of Kanosuke Distillery.

Kanosuke Distillery joins the Distill Ventures team, alongside Denmark’s Stauning Whisky, Australia’s Starward Whisky and Oregon’s Westward American Single Malt Whiskey.

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, the company says, and now bring this expertise in maturation to the production of Kanosuke Distillery’s whiskies.

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