Masataka Taketsuru, considered as the father of Japanese whisky, and the founder Nikka Whisky Distilling co., was sent to Scotland in 1919 in order to acquire the necessary technical knowledge and a experience for whisky production. This is where he met Jessie Roberta Cowan, a Scotswoman born in Glasgow. They got married in 1920 and lived in Campbeltown for a few months close to the Hazelburn distillery where Masataka was continuing his training. Cowan changed her name to Rita and moved with her husband permanently to Japan. She provided loyal support to Masataka in his vision to establish whisky production in Japan.
Of Nikka's two malt whisky distilleries, Yoichi produces rich, peaty and masculine malt. The whisky gets its distinct aroma and body from direct heating distillation, in which the pot stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal--the traditional method that is hardly ever used today, even in Scotland. In Yoichi, Masataka Taketsuru saw numerous reminders of Scotland, and this convinced him that this should be the home of Japanese Whisky.
The Miyagikyo Distillery is also in northern Japan, in Sendai, northern Honshu. Travelling in the area one day, Masataka came upon this site completely enclosed by mountains and sandwiched between two rivers. He immediately knew that this was the perfect site for whisky distilling. Sendai's fresh water, suitable humidity and crisp air produce soft and mild malt.
The location for the Miyagikyo distillery was selected because of its clean air, just the right humidity for storage, and abundant underground water filtered through a layer of peat.