In 1918, Masataka Taketsuru embarked alone on a long voyage to Scotland. In this distant land the secrets of whisky-making would be imparted to this young Japanese man, and here he would meet the woman who would become his bride.
Masataka Taketsuru was born in the coastal town of Takehara (now Takehara City) about 60km from Hiroshima City. The Taketsuru family owned a "sake"(Japanese brew made form fermented rice) brewery that goes back to 1733-- and continues to produce fine sake today, in 2004. Taught early that sake making is a painstaking fine art, Masataka studied diligently and trained at university as a chemist, preparing to carry on the family trade.
However, Scotch whisky captured the young man's imagination, as well as the interest of few other enterprising Japanese of that day. He decided to dedicate his life to whisky.
Given the chance to go to Scotland, Masataka enrolled at the University of Glasgow and became the first Japanese ever to study the art of whisky making. He took chemistry courses at the university and apprenticed at distilleries, learning first-hand from craftsmen and receiving training as a blender. Masataka would later become known as a master blender.
In 1920 Masataka returned to Japan with Jessie Roberta (Rita), whom he had married earlier that year. Later joining a company that aspired to make genuine whisky, he succeeded under its employment in producing Japan's first whisky.
Masataka's vision of whisky was formed by his experience in Scotland, and he knew that the right environment was essential. However, it was becoming apparent that in order to produce whisky as he felt it had to be, he would have to become independent.
Thus in 1934 Masataka established Nikka Whisky, and built its first distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, which-- though inconveniently located-- he had always considered to be the ideal site in Japan for whisky-making, similar in many ways to the Scottish town where he had studied.
Masataka established Nikka because he was determined to introduce his fellow Japanese to the joys of authentic whisky. In the decades since, as his company developed and the enjoyment of whisky became a fixture in Japan, he remained relentlessly passionate about quality. Never did he allow it to be sacrificed in favor of efficiency.
In that sense, Masataka Taketsuru, Father of Japanese Whisky, sake brewer's son, had never truly left his roots.
The young Scotswoman who, in 1920, embarked with her Japanese husband on a long voyage to Japan, adopted the ways of the distant land.
She steadfastly supported her husband throughout their marriage, as he built Nikka and made it flourish, until her passing in 1961. Rita and Masataka Taketsuru are buried together, in Yoichi.
- 1895. 6
- Born in Takehara-city Hiroshima prefecture.
Graduated from the Osaka technical high school fermented food production.
- 1916. 3
- Entered Settsu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd.
- 1916. 7
- Studied abroad in Great Britain. Entered Glasgow university majoring in applied chemistry.
Graduated from the Glasgow university. Back to Japan. Acquired a method for making real whisky.
- Left Settsu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. since the producing liqueur plan was abandoned.
- 1923. 6
- Entered Kotobukiya Co., Ltd. with 10years contracts. Engaged in whisky production, established Kotobukiya Co., Ltd. Yamazaki factory.
- 1925. 6
- Visited France to review the whisky and wine production.
- Back to Japan.
- 1931. 8
- Visited the Great Britain and France again for research of whisky and apple wine.
- 1932. 2
- Back to Japan.
- 1934. 3
- Left Kotobukiya Co., Ltd.
- 1934. 7
- Established Dainipponkaju Co., Ltd.. Became the president.
- Became CEO of Dainipponkaju Co., Ltd..
- 1952. 8
- Altered Dainipponkaju Co., Ltd.'s corporate name to NIKKA WHISKY DISTILLING CO.LTD.
Remained as CEO of NIKKA WHISKY DISTILLING CO.LTD.
- 1956. 5
- Presented the Medal with Yellow Ribbon.
- 1960. 2
- Presented the Medal with Blue Ribbon.
- 1962. 8
- Made a tour of Europe and the United States to study.
- 1963. 9
- Visited the Great Britain for the partnership with W&A Gilbey Ltd and research.
- 1965. 2
- Became honorary citizen in Yoichi-gun Yoichi-machi Hokkaido prefecture.
- 1969. 4
- Presented the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.
- 1970. 5
- Became the board chairman of NIKKA WHISKY DISTILLING CO.LTD.
- 1970. 9
- Presented the award of a merit medal to envelop Hokkaido.
- 1972. 2
- Donated Taketsuru Schanze to Yoichi-machi after he changed its name to Kasaya Schanze.
- 1979. 8
- Died at the age of 85. Presented the honorary medal decoration and the silver cup.