Multi award-winning master blender and distiller Ian Chang, joins newly formed, purpose-led Karuizawa Distillers Inc., to launch the Komoro Distillery in Japan

Press Release..

Multi award-winning master blender and distiller Ian Chang, joins newly formed, purpose-led Karuizawa Distillers Inc., to launch the Komoro Distillery in Japan


      Karuizawa Distillers Inc, has been formed by Karuizawa hotel-owners and residents, husband and wife team, Koji and Yoshie Shimaoka

      Former Kavalan whisky-maker, Ian Chang joins Karuizawa Distillers, Inc. as vice president and master blender and distiller for the new Komoro Distillery 
      The Komoro Distillery is due to commence construction in early 2021 and start distillation in Spring 2022

      The distillery, to be built at 910 metres above sea-level, at the base of Mount Asama, will be the highest distillery in Japan

The newly-formed Karuizawa Distillers Inc. (KDI)‘s aim is to make the best Japanese single malt whisky, in the most environmentally friendly way possible, whilst honouring and protecting the legacy of the Karuizawa name. 

KDI believe that in order to make truly great whisky, you need great people. To this end they have assembled one of the most exciting international teams in whisky. Chief among them is globally recognised, multi award-winning distiller, Ian Chang.

Ian Chang commented:
“I am very excited to be able to continue my passion for whisky-making 
in such a well-respected whisky market as Japan. My late mentor, of 12 years, Dr Jim Swan, always said that whisky-making is about the perfect fusion of the right people in the right place, at the right time. I know that with the incredible team we have in place, the abundant local natural resources, and the commitment from the local government, we can bring a brand-new chapter of world-class whisky-making back to the Karuizawa region.” 

With over 50 years of experience in international business, the founders, CEO Koji Shimaoka, and CFO Yoshie Shimaoka, dreamed of reviving whisky-making locally.

Koji Shimaoka, Founder and CEO, commented on the announcement:

‘Karuizawa whisky is a global symbol of the rich nature and history of our local area. I want to protect and honour this great name, whilst creating a new ‘legend’ in the place I have called home for over 20 years. 

The Komoro Distillery aims to establish itself as a new benchmark in Japanese whisky. The state-of-the-art contemporary distillery, in the north of Komoro, and designed by architect Akira Sogo, is situated just 800 metres from the abundant water source, ‘Noma’. The site will comprise the distillery, visitor centre and a world class ‘whisky academy’. It will be the highest distillery in Japan, at 910 metres above sea level, in the foothills of Mount Asama.

Master Blender and Distiller, Ian Chang will manage the full production process including a wood maturation programme utilising Mizunara Japanese Oak as well as STR and Sherry casks.  

The Komoro Distillery project was launched in an official announcement ceremony at the Komoro Town Hall on Saturday 12th December.

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