Yamakawa Distillery, Inc.

Common name: 
Yamagawa Distillery
58 Aza Namisato, Motobu Town, Kunigami-gun
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The Yamakawa Distillery, a local favorite for its Kaneyama brand, has a reputation for working steadily to produce kusu using treasured techniques.

In 1946, Munemichi Yamakawa founded a brewery in Motobu Town with the wish of reviving the traditional method of producing kusu and passing it on to future generations. The present third owner, Munekatsu Yamakawa, has stayed with that tradition to pass on to the world awamori with a rich aroma and a characteristic solid taste.

Generally speaking, to be permitted to bear the label of '10-year-old kusu', the matured liquor must contain a blend of over 50% 10-year-old kusu and under 50% 8-year-old kusu. But Yamakawa does not put its awamori on to the market until it has matured for another two years. If the label says 'matured for ten years', then it means that it has actually been matured for 12 years. This shows how much the maker believes in maturity. In the 1950s, when Okinawa was under Allied Occupation, the local market was flooded with low-priced alcoholic beverages introduced to Japan from the West, and consumption of awamori plummeted. But consumption of awamori grew in leaps and bounds following Okinawa's reversion to Japan because of the introduction of 720ml bottles of awamori and a Japanese pub boom. All through that period, Yamakawa quietly continued to mature kusu regardless of the situation. Its dilemma was whether to market its products or to leave them to mature further. This was solved by selling a special limited edition of kusu restricted to certain areas. Their plan also included steadily increasing the number of storage tanks to foster more kusu. The oldest liquor on sale today is Kaneyama Special Edition Treasured 30-year-old Kusu which is a painstakingly-fostered product from a maker who is determined to keep the awamori culture alive and pass it on to future generations. The owner says the company is dedicated solely to the storage of kusu. It will continue to zealously mature old awamori for years to come with the aim of producing 40-, 50-, and even 100-year-old kusu.