Japanese distillers travel 12,000 miles to make the perfect malt in Great Ryburgh

Staff from the Chichibu Distillery in Japan taking part in traditional  floor malting at Crisp Maltings in Great Ryburgh.

Staff from the Chichibu Distillery in Japan taking part in traditional floor malting at Crisp Maltings in Great Ryburgh.


Japanese whisky manufacturers demonstrated their commitment to a “grain to glass” philosophy by making a 12,000-mile round trip to Norfolk to turn their own malt.

Members of the Venture Whisky team from the Chichibu Distillery in eastern Japan travelled to meet their suppliers at Crisp Maltings in Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham.

There, they indulged in their annual ritual of joining in with the process of traditional floor malting.

Managing director Ichiro Akuto said: “It might seem a long way to go, but it’s become like an annual pilgrimage.

“It allows us to verify the quality of raw grain and join in turning the germinating barley by hand. We spend several days at Crisp, taking up the rakes twice a day and observing the progress of our very own batch.

“This year we’re very proud to have procured and joined in the malting of some of the 50th anniversary Maris Otter barley crop. Although it’s usually used for brewing, we’re sure it will, like all the floor malt from Crisp, make an exceptional whisky.”

Mr Akuto said Japanese consumers are extremely interested in the ingredients and processes involved in their food and drink, as well as in taste and experience. “They like the fact that we’re engaged in – and personally monitor - everything from raw materials to packaging. They are intrigued by our journey across the globe to join in the malting with Crisp.”

Crisp Malting Group, an EDP Top 100 firm, has one of the few remaining floor maltings in Britain

Production director Graham Taylor said: “Craft spirit drinkers will have to wait three years before they have the chance to try Chichibu Distillery’s Venture whisky, distilled using the malt hand-turned by the team in 2015.

“No doubt it will be worth the wait – and the 12,000-mile round trip.”

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