Honkaku Spirits recently introduced Takamine Whiskey, an 8-year-old koji-fermented whiskey, and right out of the gate, the new spirit won a Gold Medal at the 2021 San Francisco Wine & Spirits Competition.
The whiskey is named for Jokichi Takamine, a Japanese chemist living in Illinois, who was the first to apply koji fermentation (the centuries’ old Japanese technique of using naturally-occurring grain mold to break down starches to convert into sugars) to American whiskey in the 1890s. (He is also credited with planting the original DC cherry blossoms!) Produced at Shinozaki Distillery it has a mash bill of 100% pearled 2-row barley, which is 40% koji-fermented and 60% steamed. A 2-day koji propagation is followed by a 2-stage open fermentation, then a double pot-still distillation to a barrel proof of 86.7%. The whiskey is matured in virgin American oak and ex-bourbon casks with no added color. It is matured 8 years in a combination of virgin American oak and ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at 80 proof.