THE FOUNDERS’ STORY
The establishment of The Kyoto Distillery
The Kyoto Distillery was established in 2014 by the three founders: Noriko Kakuda Croll, David Croll and Marcin Miller.
The company may still be in its infancy, but the founders’ journey to build one of the most innovative distilleries in the world began some 20 years ago. Noriko and David established a whisky importing company in Tokyo in the late 1990s to introduce discerning Japanese whisky enthusiasts to a variety of distinguished single malts from independent Scottish distilleries. In this capacity, they met Marcin Miller, at the time Editor and Publisher of Whisky Magazine. Together they created a Japanese language version of the magazine, and launched whisky tasting event Whisky Live in 2000.
David and Noriko built brands such as the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), Isle of Arran and Springbank in Japan, as well as launching BrewDog’s business and opening the bar in Roppongi. They championed artisanal gin, working with Chase and Sipsmith, and premium mixers with Fever-Tree. David has been inducted as a Rectifier of the Gin Guild, as well as being appointed a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Distillers.
Marcin is a Master of the Quaich, Kentucky Colonel, Warden Rectifier of the Gin Guild and Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Distillers. He has acted as a communications consultant to Ardbeg, Craigellachie, Glenfiddich and No. 3 Gin, among many others. He has contributed to numerous books and written for titles such as The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph.
As well as working closely together, bonds between the three founders were strengthened over a few glasses of whisky, the odd Negroni and several international rugby matches. In 2005, they co-founded Number One Drinks Company and began exporting exceptionally rare Japanese single malts – including the fabled Karuizawa and Hanyu – to whisky lovers around the world.
After an exciting decade, the team felt that it was time for a fresh challenge. The pull of Kyoto was very strong for David and Noriko, who had visited regularly and now wanted to make the city their home.
As lifelong gin fans, the founders realised a long-held ambition by building The Kyoto Distillery, the first in Japan to be solely dedicated to making this glorious spirit. After two years of experimentation and research, KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin was launched in October 2016. The flagship expression is made using botanicals sourced mainly from the Kyoto Prefecture, and in collaboration with many of Kyoto’s finest artisans and craftsmen.
Today, KI NO BI is enjoyed worldwide and has won numerous awards from prestigious international spirits competitions, including IWSC International Gin Producer of the Year.