In 1918, Masataka Taketsuru embarked alone on a long voyage to Scotland. In this distant land the secrets of whisky-making would be imparted to this young Japanese man, and here he would meet the woman who would become his bride.
Masataka Taketsuru was born in the coastal town of Takehara (now Takehara City) about 60km from Hiroshima City. The Taketsuru family owned a sake brewery (that goes back to 1733) and continues to produce fine sake today. Taught early that sake making is a painstaking fine art, Masataka studied diligently and trained at university as a chemist, preparing to carry on the family trade. However he decided to dedicate his life to whisky and enrolled at the University of Glasgow to study the art of whisky making. He took chemistry courses at the university and apprenticed at distilleries, learning first-hand from craftsmen and receiving training as a blender. Masataka would later become known as a master blender.
In 1934 Masataka established Nikka Whisky, and built its first distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido which, though inconveniently located, he had always considered to be the ideal site in Japan for whisky-making.
Rita, the young Scotswoman who, in 1920, embarked with her Japanese husband on a long voyage to Japan, adopted the ways of the distant land.
She steadfastly supported her husband throughout their marriage, as he built Nikka and made it flourish, until she died in 1961. Rita and Masataka Taketsuru are buried together, in Yoichi.
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