Diageo has made a minority investment in Japanese single malt whisky producer Komasa Kanosuke Distillery, through incubator company Distill Ventures. 

The investment will support the “next stage of the company’s growth” by enabling increased production of whisky, the development of new products, and the expansion of its international sales and marketing teams.

A spokesperson for Distill Ventures told Drinks Retailing that the whisky is working to launch in the UK market and is “open to suppliers for distribution”.

Established in 2017 by long-time shochu maker Komasa Jyozo, Komasa Kanosuke Distillery launched its first single malt whisky in June this year. The company said the release of the three-year old whisky will be followed by further limited cask-strength releases before the expected launch of its flagship single malt brand in 2022.

Yoshitsugu Komasa, founder and CEO of Kanosuke Distillery said: “We are proud of our accomplishments to date, including the barrel-ageing and other production techniques developed during Komasa Jyozo’s long history of shochu production and the awards we have won in both domestic and international competitions. Now, with the strong and strategic support from global alcoholic beverages leader Diageo and Distill Ventures through this partnership, we are very happy that we will be able to pursue growing our business further and provide more whisky drinkers in Japan and worldwide with Japanese craft whiskies from Kanosuke Distillery.”

The investment agreement envisages a transition to a 50:50 joint-venture ownership structure with Diageo subject to future performance. The Japanese whisky joins Denmark’s Stauning Whisky, Australia’s Starward Whisky and Oregon’s Westward American Single Malt Whiskey in the Distill Ventures portfolio.