The brand’s premiere single grain whisky employs traditional koji fermentation methods to achieve a truly unique drink to savour
The global appreciation for whisky has certainly made room for a wider range of expressions. It has also given rise to some ambitious undertakings. In fact, one such example—Kyushu Spirits—recently marked its debut in Singapore with the launch of its first brand of koji whisky, the Asakura Premium.
No doubt unfamiliar to some, this is a hybrid spirit made entirely with Japanese barley (mugi), using centuries-old distillation techniques that incorporate the use of koji (which is added to steamed barley) to kickstart the fermentation process; this replaces the customary malting practice used in the making of malt whisky.
Created in a single distillery on Japan’s southernmost island of Kyushu, Asakura Premium is matured in oak sherry casks that gives the spirit its bouquet of honey, vanilla and coconut, with hints of soft white florals—presumably the result of using koji. On the palate, one can also expect notes of honey as well as buttery brown sugar and cinnamon, and even a touch of citrus.
“During a trip to Kyushu Island, I was able to witness this process (of traditional koji fermentation) and sample some of the intriguing concoctions, which is what inspired me to create Kyushu Spirits in order to share these tastes with a discerning audience globally,” shares Vikramm Chand, founder and managing director of Kyushu Spirits. Born and raised in Japan, Chand moved to the United Kingdom to complete his higher education, before returning to Japan to join his family’s trading business.
He adds: “By launching Asakura Premium, we are creating a new category altogether. The liquid has a very unique taste, which sets it apart from other whiskies and allows us to complement existing brands that are already on the market.
“Our ultimate goal through Kyushu Spirits is to work alongside the distilling families of Kyushu to introduce hybrid spirits to the rest of the world.”
The response from its trade partners in Singapore has been encouraging, and Chand is confident the island’s discerning and adventurous imbibers will be just as excited to try it. He explains: “Having lived in Singapore for the past 28 years and witnessed the progression of the F&B scene here, it felt like a natural first market for Asakura Premium.”
Asakura Premium is currently served at the likes of Sake Labo, The Cooperage, The American Club, and Matsuya Dining, and also retails at Cellarbration.