History

Passion passed down the generations

Challenges in difficult times

1927~1945

1927
Showa Financial Crisis

1939
World War II

1945
The Bombing of Toyama(August 1)

Challenges in difficult times

During the 1927 Showa Financial Crisis when the entire Japan was hit by an economic recession, Kotaro Inagaki, the second president of the brewery, strived to raise the liquor quality even higher and provide it at affordable prices to the overcome the recession. When he visited breweries in Nada and Fushimi, he learned of the taste of sake made with high-quality subsoil water and made a huge investment to dig a deep well amid the economic crisis. This dramatically increased the quality of sake made at Wakatsuru Brewery using the clear subsoil water of the Shou River. When the World War II started in 1939, however, the use of rice was restricted under the Staple Food Control Act and the brewery industry was faced with tough challenges. The Bombing of Toyama on August 1, 1945, also caused a decline in the sake output of Wakatsuru Brewery. Kotaro Inagaki, then, focused on the techniques to produce alcohol from ingredients other than rice.

Challenges in difficult times
Kotaro Inagaki, the second president of the brewery

Research of Distilled Spirits Production

1947~1952

1947
established Wakatsuru Hakko Kenkyujo

1949
obtained a license to produce Shochu(Feburary)

1950
obtained a license to produce miscellaneous liquors

1952
obtained a license to produce whisky and port wine(July)

Research of Distilled Spirits Production

Inagaki began searching for specialists to produce alcohol from ingredients other than rice and met Shigetoshi Fukazawa, who had returned to Japan from Manchuria in Northeast Asia. Fukasawa had profound knowledge of fermentation from his experience of working as a head of Kikkoman soy sauce factory. Inagaki hired Fukasawa as an engineer at Wakatsuru Brewery and Katsume of the National Research Institute of Brewing as an advisor and established Wakatsuru Hakko Kenkyujo (fermentation laboratory) in 1947. The experiments began with growing Jerusalem artichoke, the use of which was not initially restricted, at the riverside area of the Shou River and extracted alcohol from the plant. Inagaki, then, acquired a license to produce Shochu in February 1949. They continued the research and obtained a license to produce miscellaneous liquors in 1950 and whisky and port wine in July 1952, and started full-scale production of distilled spirits.

Inagaki with Fukazawa
Inagaki with Fukazawa

Wakatsuru Hakko Kenkyujo (fermentation laboratory)
Wakatsuru Hakko Kenkyujo (fermentation laboratory)

Inagaki with Fukazawa
Inagaki with Fukazawa

Wakatsuru Hakko Kenkyujo (fermentation laboratory)
Wakatsuru Hakko Kenkyujo
(fermentation laboratory)

Birth of Wakatsuru Whisky

1953~

1953
launched Sunshine Whisky

Birth of Wakatsuru Whisky

Sunshine Whisky was the first whisky that Wakatsuru Brewery launched after obtaining the license to produce whisky in 1952. The name “Sunshine Whisky,” which was launched only in Toyama Prefecture in the following spring, was chosen from suggestions collected from the general public with the will of letting the sun rise again in Japan, which had lost everything to the war, with the distilled spirits made with water, air, and sunlight.

New Year’s card (1954)
New Year’s card (1954)

Construction from a Fire

1953
burned down a total of six buildings in the area of about 635 tsubo (2,100 sq. meters)

1953
made a restart from the fire

Construction from a Fire

Soon after Inagaki began focusing on the distilled spirits sector, a fire broke out in the distillation room at 23:50 on May 11, 1953, and burned down a total of six buildings, including the plant, cafeteria, assembly hall, dormitory, and ingredient warehouse in the area of about 635 tsubo (2,100 sq. meters). The business continuity was at stake, but every day, hundreds of local people came and helped cleaning after the fire even during the farmers’ busiest season of May and cleared rubble by using full time the only three trucks that the community had at the time. Thanks to the sincerity and efforts of the neighbors, the factory was successfully constructed in less than six months, and Wakatsuru Brewery made a restart from the fire.

Local Newspaper dated May 13 (1953)
Local Newspaper dated May 13 (1953)

New Departure of Wakatsuru Whisky

1954~

1954
introduced an allospas distiller
the company's 35th anniversary at the head office, which had been completely restored

New Departure of Wakatsuru Whisky

When resuming whisky distillation after reconstruction from the fire, Wakatsuru Brewery introduced an allospas distiller, which was at the time owned by only five companies in Japan. On November 5, 1954, all employees held a ceremony for the company’s 35th anniversary at the head office, which had been completely restored.

Reconstruction completed distillation tower
Reconstruction completed distillation tower

Implementing a Repair Project

2016~

2016
launched the Saburomaru Distillery Repair Project

Implementing a Repair Project

More than 64 have passed since the miraculous reconstruction and resumption and the distillery has deteriorated. It has been long since the old distillation towers were demolished. “We must not let the only distillery in Hokuriku and its whisky making continuing for so many years die.” Wakatsuru Brewery launched the Saburomaru Distillery Repair Project in 2016 and took on the challenge of cloud funding to secure the funds.
When we promoted our passion for whisky production that we have protected for more than 60 years and the aspiration to develop Toyama whisky in the global market, a total of 38,255,000 yen, far exceeding our target of 25 million yen, was collected from 463 supporters.

Implementing a Repair Project

Growing Toyama’s Craft Whisky into Whisky Loved around the World

2017~

2017
Renovation completed as the only whisky distillery in the Hokuriku region

Growing Toyama’s Craft Whisky into Whisky Loved around the World

With the support of many people, in July 2017, Saburomaru Distillery transformed itself into the only whisky distillery in Hokuriku that accepts visitors for a distillery tour.
In addition to the repair of the buildings, we have improved our production facilities to make them better than ever.
We, at Wakatsuru Brewery, continue to take on challenges towards our big goal and dream of growing Toyama’s craft whisky into whisky loved around the world.

Growing Toyama’s Craft Whisky into Whisky Loved around the World