Brand Story



First Japanese Rum made on the Mainland- driven by the Spirit of Japanese Craftsmanship - Monozukuri



NINE LEAVES is a micro distillery found in 2013 in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. “My wish was to create a finished product that embodies my thoughts and creativity, fully produced within the reach of my eyes.”- thus it came to pass that a new Rum brand was born.


I Yoshiharu Takeuchi, founder and distiller of NINE LEAVES is the third successor of a company that makes automotive parts for the world’s leading Japanese automaker. My family, as well as myself take pride in being a part of Japanese Craftsmanship - Monozukuri and hold dignity in saying that we have played a humble position in the growth of the Japanese Economy. Assuredly, the responsibilities are rewarding, yet the scope is limited to parts- what we make are gears. The gear that is assembled as a part of a wheel and delivered as a different, composed product. I had always wished to present the heart of Japanese Craftsmanship to the customer, directly. This lead to my new challenge- Rum making. 


Firstly, my rum making starts with fermenting brown sugar, followed by distillation of the wash, and finished by the second distillation process. The second distillation requires extreme attention, where the undesirable feints are discarded, and the goodness is extracted and condensed for a rich, fragrant extract. In the brewing of Japanese Sake as well as Wine, one must consider and to an extent entrust or embrace the natural process; which is considered “divine” at times, while distilled spirits require more science. Handling and treating of resin for auto-parts is science, and so is distilling. Manufacturing is about process control. It then struck me. Making auto-parts and spirits have much in common.


I explored the idea. Brewing is more of an art that is perfected by experience, and demands the skill to take natural effects in to play. On the other hand, distilling requires more of science- which is fundamentally similar to the “craftsmanship” that I am already well accustomed to. This is when I decided that I would make spirits.


Soon after I decided to make Rum, I was blessed by an encounter with a mineral water from Shiga Prefecture. This neutral, soft water with a solidity of only 12 travels through a natural filter or the earth's multiple stratum. It flows timelessly in a mine that was once used to collect anorthite, the main ingredient of top quality, transparent glaze for finest pottery patronized by “living national treasures” or renowned selective artisans. Rum is commonly made by sugar cane juice or molasses, but I had an impulse to use brown sugar. It was in aim to discard the variable of bitterness or off-flavor from sugar cane juice and molasses, and to enhance the clear, refined sweetness and linger that I had in mind. I started my research soon after, and was able to get a hold of a brand of brown sugar from Tarama Island which met my standards. I also tried fermentation with numerous types of Japanese yeast, and ultimately reached one that is rarely used to make spirits.


I then visited the Chichibu Distillery, which is another micro-distillery known for Ichiro’s Malt for a three-day training period. Three days may appear too short to learn the essentials in distilling, but this is a norm in the automotive industry. If we are lucky we would be given a maximum of three days, which could possibly be as short as a day to learn basic operations during training or visits to other factories. I take confidence in being able to do so, and was assured that this would also apply for rum making.


During my stay at Chichibu distillery, I came across Forsyths, a Scottish pot-still maker. This is when I decided to make my rum from hand-made copper pot-stills, by this distinguished brand. The form of the initial distillation still has been inspired by Chichibu Distillery, where I learned the basics of distilling. For the other still, I consulted Forsyths with the final product I had in mind. Since the second distillation process determines the scent of the spirit, Forsyths recommended that the second to be in a similar form as to the one used by GlenMorangie. For the construction of the distillery, I took charge of the blueprints and helped build it, which was completed in March 2013. This was when I received my license as a distiller, too. Alas, I was then ready to start my operation. It had been two years after I decided to make Rum.


Rum is produced and favored worldwide, generally found in areas where sugar cane and molasses are abundant, or where there already is a distillery in place. NINE LEAVES was made from scratch- started off from building a distillery for Rum close to its source of water. Although it was unintentional, NINE LEAVES could be a rare case of a micro-distillery by international standards.


Starting a brand is a business. When I started NINE LEAVES, I made a promise to work diligently and deliver for decades to come. Rum, and likewise wine, are stored and aged throughout the years. I intend to hand over the skill of Rum making, as well as the Rum that ages in barrels for my family. This is why I named my brand NINE LEAVES. The Takeuchi family crest (or Kamon in Japanese) is composed of nine bamboo leaves. Bamboo is known for their strong roots, that also strengthens the properties of the soil they grown on, specifically resistant to harsh weather and indifferent to hot and cold temperatures. The strong virtues have made it a popular motif to be used in Kamon. The logo for NINE LEAVES is a modern interpretation of the Takeuchi family crest, which carries the wish and good intentions to continue the tradition for generations.


The power of the internet and social media has brought the world to a new age, where clarity and openness are key for a sustainable business. I wish to keep things clear and honest, devote my utmost care in making the best Rum within my capacity. For such reasons, I refer to my first NINE LEAVES product as CLEAR rum, and not White Rum.


Although NINE LEAVES has just started it’s endeavor, it is also taking up the challenge to make aged rum. We hope to share our new-age of craftsmanship with our patrons- in the making of new spirits, even as we anticipate its flavors to accrue from aging. If we may, be a part in enjoying the “spirit” of it’s making, in your desired ambience.


Japanese Craftsmanship has always prospered by reaching out to persons who appreciate quality, all over the world. Similarly, NINE LEAVES is seeking to deliver overseas. Thus is our message “Sincerely Made, Rum from Japan.” Made from the finest ingredients. Creativity joined with challenges. Articulate and diligent work for genuine quality. Deliver unrivaled experiences. All in a bottle- to set a new age of Japanese Monozukuri.



That is what NINE LEAVES aspires to be.



NINE LEAVES Distillery Takehiro Ltd.

Yoshiharu Takeuchi



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