20 June 1894
|Died||29 August 1979 (aged 85)|
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow|
|Known for||Founder of Nikka Whisky|
(1920.01.08-1961.01.17, her death)
Masataka Taketsuru ( , Taketsuru Masataka, 1894-1979) was a Japanese chemist and businessman who founded Japan's first whisky industry. He was born in 1894 in Takehara, Hiroshima, to a family that had owned a sake brewery since 1733.
In December 1918, he arrived in Scotland and enrolled at the University of Glasgow, where he studied organic chemistry in the summer of 1919. 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. 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.
After returning to Japan, Taketsuru worked at Kotobukiya, which would later become Suntory, where he helped establish a whisky distillery. 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.