Mr. Ken Usami founded the craft beer brewery called Niigata beer in 1997. Innovator by heart, Mr Usami was the first brewer to apply secondary bottle fermentation and aging in Japan. As a long time premium craft brewer, Mr. Usami dreamed of creating a local whisky distillery that will be able to showcase the quality of local pure water and serve the passionate community of spirit lovers. In 2016 Shinobu Distillery was founded, where tradition meets innovation in the world of premium Japanese whisky. Nestled in the heart of Japan’s picturesque countryside in Niigata, a place that is praised locally by its “three white treasures” – snow, rice and sake.
The distillery takes its name from the Japanese word “shinobu,” meaning “forbearance” in Japanese, symbolizing the spirit of a samurai like making great spirits which takes time, patience and persistence. Shinobu Distillery combines traditional Japanese whisky-making techniques with modern innovation to create a unique and distinctive range of whiskies.
At the core of our philosophy lies a deep respect for nature’s bounty. We meticulously select the finest local ingredients, from pristine water sources in Niigata to handpicked grains. Our commitment to quality is unwavering, and it is reflected in every bottle of Shinobu whisky.
Shinobu is a sustainable distillery, sourcing local water and utilizing geothermal springs to power the production at their secondary distilling site in the Tsugawa area of Niigata. It will be one of the first in the world to be run on this form of power, and the company is dedicated to being environmentally sustainable, constantly improving processes to minimize their carbon footprint. The distillery already takes advantage of Niigata prefecture’s unique geographical features with their pure water coming from snowmelt that flows into the nearby rivers.
In addition to caring for their local environment, they are also heavily inspired by it when it comes to aging their whisky, sourcing locally grown Japanese oak for maturing their spirit. Well known as Mizunara oak, they finish most of their expressions in this notoriously rare oak. The challenges of working with – and even sourcing – Mizunara oak make it a relatively uncommon sight in the whisky industry. The trees have a tendency to not grow straight, be porous, and are high in water content, meaning that even after an extensive drying out of the staves, they still have a tendency to leak. Add to an already temperamental barrel, the tree needs to be around 200 years old before it’s ripe for coopering. Shinobu Distillery also experiments with different types of casks, including ex-bourbon and ex-sherry to create different flavours and aromas in its whiskies.
At Shinobu Distillery, we are more than just distillers; we are storytellers, creators, and enthusiasts of the art of Japanese whisky. We invite you to be part of our journey as we continue to craft exceptional Japanese whisky that capture the essence of tradition and the spirit of innovation.
Thank you for choosing Shinobu Distillery, where our whisky reflects the beauty and elegance of Japan itself.