Masataka Taketsuru

Masataka Taketsuru (竹鶴 政孝, Taketsuru Masataka, 1894–1979) was a Japanese chemist and businessman. He is known as the founder of Japan's whisky industry and Nikka Whisky Distilling.

Masataka Taketsuru
Masataka and Rita Taketsuru.jpg
Masataka Taketsuru and his wife Rita
竹鶴 政孝
たけつる まさたか

20 June 1894
Died29 August 1979(1979-08-29) (aged 85)
Bunkyō, Tokyo, Japan
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
Osaka University
Known forFounder of Nikka Whisky
Spouse(s)Rita Taketsuru
(1920.01.08-1961.01.17, her death)

Born to a family that had owned a sake brewery since 1733, he traveled to Scotland in 1918 to study organic chemistry and distilling. He then returned to Japan establishing a whisky distillery at Suntory and founded his own distilling company, Nikka Whisky, in 1934.

Early lifeEdit

The Taketsuru House (old brewery) in Takehara, Hiroshima

Masataka Taketsuru was born on June 20, 1894 in Takehara, Hiroshima, to a family that had owned a sake brewery since 1733.

Experiences in ScotlandEdit

In December 1918, he arrived in Scotland and enrolled at the University of Glasgow, where he studied organic chemistry in the summer of 1919.[1] Taketsuru studied under Thomas Stewart Patterson, the Gardiner Chair of Chemistry.

In April 1919, Taketsuru began his apprenticeship at Longmorn distillery in Strathspey, Scotland, and then in July at James Calder & Co.'s Bo'ness distillery in the Lowlands region.[2] On 8 January 1920, he married Jessie Roberta "Rita" Cowan of Middlecroft, Kirkintilloch, despite opposition from both their families. Initially, they lived in Campbeltown and his last apprenticeship began in May 1920 at Hazelburn distillery (purchased in 1920 by Mackie & Co., then owners of Springbank) before moving to Japan later in November 1920 via New York and Seattle.[3]

Return to JapanEdit

Bust of Masataka Taketsuru in Yoichi, Hokkaido

After returning to Japan, Taketsuru worked at Kotobukiya, which would later become Suntory, where he helped establish a whisky distillery just outside of Kyoto. In 1934 he founded his own distilling company, Dai Nippon Kaju K.K., in Yoichi on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. He believed that this part of Japan was the most similar to Scotland. He later renamed the company Nikka. Nikka whisky was first sold in October 1940. Taketsuru's wife, Rita, died in January 1961, of liver disease. Taketsuru died in 1979. He is buried in Yoichi together with his wife.[3]

See alsoEdit

  • Massan - NHK Asadora (morning drama) television series inspired by the life of Taketsuru and his wife Rita[4][5]


  1. ^ "Biography of Masataka Taketsuru". Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  2. ^ "The Founder | NIKKA WHISKY". Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b Mitchell, Jon (28 November 2010). "The Rita Taketsuru Fan Club". The Japan Times. pp. 9–10. Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
  4. ^ Kodera, Atsushi (19 November 2013). "For first time, NHK seeks Caucasian actress to star in morning drama". The Japan Times. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  5. ^ "missing". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2013.

Further readingEdit

  • Checkland, Olive (1998). Japanese Whisky, Scotch Blend: Masataka Taketsuru, the Japanese whisky king and Rita, his Scotch wife. Dalkeith: Scottish Cultural Press. ISBN 1840170034.

External linksEdit