Japan, Nagano. Distillery operational. Owner: Hombo Shuzo Co. Ltd.Founded in 1985, Mars-Shinshu had been a distillery in-the-making since 1918. Its history has something of the “back to the future” about it. In 1918, Kijiro Iwai, director of Settsu Shozu, sent Masataka Taketsuru to Scotland to learn the basics of distillation. On his return in 1920, he found his employer at the head of a company that had gone adrift. Settsu Shozu was unable to follow through on its plans for a new distillery and in the end it was Shinjiro Torii (Suntory) that benefited from Taketsuru's experience first, using it to found the Yamazaki distillery. In 1960, Kijiro Iwai's son-in-law, then director of the Hombo company, decided to take up the challenge. Drawing on the experience of his father-in-law and Taketsuru's notes, he began distilling a robust, smoky malt at one of his wine and brandy production units in Yamanashi. Quite unsuited to the tastes of Japanese consumers at the time who were accustomed to more subtle flavours, it was a commercial failure. In 1978, however, he made a second attempt at the Kagoshima site, before finally deciding to open Mars-Shinshu in 1985. Caught up in the upheaval of a crisis in whisky consumption in Japan, the distillery ceased production in 1992. In 2011, following major restoration work, Mars-Shinshu then opened once again, this time for the long run.