In 1918, a young Japanese man with an ambition to make genuine whisky went alone to Scotland to unveil the secret of whisky making. He is Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky.
Given the chance to go to Scotland, Masataka became the first Japanese ever to master how to make whisky. He enrolled at the University of Glasgow, took chemistry courses and then apprenticed at three Scotch distilleries. The young and passionate man was fortunate to learn first-hand from craftsmen and have practical trainings to master blending. The two notebooks filled with every detail later became Japan’s very first guide in whisky production.
In 1934 he built his first distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, a place - though inconveniently located - he had always considered to be the ideal site for him to make whisky. The environmental conditions of Yoichi were in many ways similar to those of Scotland with a cool climate, crisp air and appropriate humidity. The company first started producing apple products under the name of “Dai Nippon Kaju”, meaning the “Great Japanese Juice Company” while he was preparing to produce whisky. In 1936 the first pot still designed by Masataka and made in Japan was installed and started distillation. Finally in 1940 the first whisky from Nikka was launched. The brand name of this whisky was “NIKKA WHISKY”, short for "Nippon Kaju", which later became the name of the company itself.