Hey, I’m Rusty. Welcome to our newsletter, sharing the startup journey of Kamui Whisky K.K. We’ve been busy, but when we aren’t overwhelmed, the team will share a story as we set up a craft whisky distillery on a remote, volcanic island in the most northern part of Japan.
With the news of the distillery breaking ground, Casey and I have had a couple of media interviews recently. One question that caught me off-guard, was; ‘You mentioned that you plan to export over half of the product to China and the US. Is there a non-financial reason for this?’
It’s a great question. I realized we haven’t been communicating clearly one of the main commitments of Kamui Whisky K.K. - To bring Rishiri to the World.
Rishiri is this rustic, grounded, peaceful island that’s been self-sufficient for generations. Relying on fishing as its primary trade, its history is rich and deep - from being the last of the Ainu, to becoming one of the richest regions in Japan in the 1930s - 1940s, to its current status of exporting the world’s most delicious uni. And yet, its kept to its roots of real people, doing hard work, focused on community. The island is raw, resilient, and beautiful.
We immediately fell in love with the island, the people, and the culture. I’ve never experienced such a warm embrace from an entire community before. With genuine interest and a willingness to help that is unparalleled in my experience. It’s such an amazing island and community that, very early on, we knew that we wanted to get the story of Rishiri out to the world.
This is a cornerstone of everything we do at Kamui Whisky K.K..
As an example, we are currently in the middle of bottle design discussions. You’d think picking a bottle would be easy; 1) Find something that looks cool 2) Throw on a label 3) cork it 4) Put up on the shelf. Seems simple enough.
But then we started looking at bottles and quickly realized it’s not that at all. When we started researching and viewing bottles, the choices seemed endless. There are 1000s of choices! With 100s of variations of those initial choices. And, again, 100s of variations off those variations. The number of nuances we could create is insane. Tall, short, thin, boxy, round, square, long neck, short neck, color, texture, etc. There’s a lot of different bottles out there, folks. A lot. It instantly becomes overwhelming.
Our challenge is that we want you to experience Rishiri. We want you to experience Rishiri when you see the bottle. We want you to experience Rishiri when you touch the bottle. And we want you to experience Rishiri when you open the bottle. And, of course, we want you to experience Rishiri when you taste the whisky.
This is extremely challenging.
A bottle we hold in high regard is Blanton’s Bourbon. Their bottle is beautiful and one-of-a-kind. When you see it, you know it immediately; the unique, rounded shape, the aged paper, the script font, and of course the one-off cap. There’s thoughtfulness in this. Its art. You can see it from across the room and just looking at it makes you want to drink whatever’s inside.
Another bottle I’m personally, in love with is Garrison Brothers. They take an authentic whiskey bottle and make it their own. The star, the ribbon wrap, the color palettes, and, of course, the wax dip. Again, extremely thoughtful. If that bottle doesn’t scream Texas Bourbon at y’all, I don’t know what does. You see it, you know it, you want it. The inside matches the outside.
In my opinion, if a distiller takes that much care and detail in their bottle, then imagine the care and detail they put into making the whisky. Craftsmanship and pride infuse both.
This is the vision we are trying to attain.
However, Japan is known for it’s minimalism, subtleness, an intriguing simplicity. Rishiri is a rustic version of that. Trying to create a bottle that closely resembles Blanton’s Bourbon or Garrison Brothers would be the equivalent to throwing Baroque into a Zen Garden.
So what does Rishiri look like in a bottle?
We’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you notice in whisky bottles? What are your favorites? What’s been your favorite experience?
Please comment or send us a DM.
I think you are on the right path with either a very unique (and simplistic) bottle design or a standard looking bottle with some sort of unique quality (maybe the color of the label or even the color of the bottle - see what the Italians did with Puni). Looking forward to seeing how the adventure continues to pan out.