Diageo has made a minority investment in Japan's Komasa Kanosuke Distillery, a Kagoshima-based producer of ultra-premium single-malt whiskeys, 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 whiskey, the development of new products, and the expansion of its international sales and marketing teams.
Komasa Kanosuke Distillery
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 whiskey in June of 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 been recognised by the World Whiskey Awards (Best Japanese New Make in 2019 and 2020) and the Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition (2019 and 2021).
Kanosuke Distillery's single malt whiskey 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 whiskeys.
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 whiskeys.
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 whiskey drinkers in Japan and worldwide with Japanese craft whiskeys 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 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 new world whisky brands.
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."