The reemergence of Japanese whisky's smaller distillery sector continues apace. As Nonjatta reported previously [1,2], Shinshu distillery owned by Hombo spirits has been getting a refit, and Takeshi Mogi just alerted me to the announcement of a date for reopening: February 2011.
This web posting gives more details and some background to Mars's fall and rise. At one stage, Shinshu was pumping out 900kl of whisky a year, the post say. But tax changes in 1989 and the general decline in Japan's domestic whisky market from the mid 1980s forced the company to stop making malt whisky in 1992.
The post says that the company had been considering restarting production for some time, and that what finally made it a feasible business proposition was the recent recovery of the whisky market. They feel that they can make a steady business out of single malt.
Refitting of the distillery is expected to be completed by the end of 2010, and distilling will start again in February. The basic stats of the new operation: grist mill can grind 0.5 tons of malt an hour; washbacks 7kl x 5. The two stills were originally installed at a different location in 1960 by Kiichiro Iwai, they were brought from Yamanashi prefecture to Shinshu. Wash Still (straight head) 6kl; Spirit Still (straight head) 8kl.