Diageo eyes greater share of Japanese spirits markets with minority investment in Kanosuke Distillery

JAPAN – British multinational alcoholic beverages company Diageo is eyeing a greater share of Japanese spirits market with its latest investment in ultra-premium whisky producer Komasa Kanosuke Distillery.  

Founded in 2017, Kanosuke Distillery debuted its first ultra-premium single-malt whisky in June of this year. 

Diageo’s investment made through Distill Ventures will support the company’s growth by enabling increased production of whisky, development of new products and the extension of its international sales and marketing teams. 

Following the investment, Kanosuke Distillery will be joining Denmark’s Stauning Whisky, Australia’s Starward Whisky and Oregon’s Westward American Single Malt Whiskey in Distill Ventures’ portfolio of whisky brands. 

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

“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.” 

The founders of Kanosuke Distillery, Komasa Jyozo Co, will retain majority ownership and control of the company.  
The investment agreement however proposes a transition to 50:50 joint ownership with Diageo subject to future performance. 

Diageo’s investment is timely as the Japanese whiskey market is currently under rapid due to increasing awareness regarding aged whisky and a growing taste for unique and imported spirits. 

According to Grand Review Research, the global Japanese whisky market size is expected to reach US$1.1 billion by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc., registering a 9.4% CAGR over the forecast period.   

Diageo opens Johny Walker Visitor Experience in Scotland 

Meanwhile in Scotland, Diageo has opened the landmark Global Johnnie Walker Visitor Experience, an eight-storey visitor experience for the “world’s best-selling Scotch whisky.” 

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Set over 71,500 sq ft, it takes the concept of personalisation to a scale never before seen in a global drinks visitor experience. 

The building – formerly a traditional department store for almost 100 years – will contain a state-of-the-art experiential retail space where shoppers can select from rare and exclusive whiskies, fill their own bottles and have them personalised. 

Visitors on the Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour tour will have their personal flavour preferences mapped with drinks tailored to their palate. 

With more than 800 flavour combinations available in the innovative dispensation systems, one person could visit Johnnie Walker Princes Street every day for more than two years and not have the same experience twice. 

To make the project a reality, Diageo invested a total of £185million pound – the largest single investment programme of its kind ever seen- over a period of four years. 

The aim of the investment, according to Diageo, is to rebuild Scotch whisky tourism for the future.  

Johnnie Walker Princes Street is also committed to contributing to the community by offering its award-winning hospitality training programme for unemployed people in its special Johnnie Walker Learning for Life academy. 

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