Dekantā is a family company based in Japan that works to share high quality Japanese whiskey with the world while also constantly searching for new whiskeys to bring back to Japan’s market. Launched in 2015, they were the first e-commerce website dedicated to selling “Japan’s most renowned spirits”.
To start, can you introduce yourself and explain your role at dekantā?
Hello, my pleasure – glad to be chatting with you. I’m Makiyo Masa and I am the founder and director here at dekantā. My husband often says I’m like a beautifully blended whisky, and I suppose that tells all, I’m Japanese but have a mixed cultural background.
My family has been in the Japanese whisky industry for decades, so I grew up with a good knowledge of the market around me and developed my own passion for this exceptional Japanese product.
Back in 2011, when I was living in Hong Kong, I noticed how much more attention Scotch whisky gained compared to Japanese in an auction. I realized the potential global market of people who could not access Japanese whisky, as it was so hard to get hold of outside Japan. And so, dekantā was born – an e-commerce site giving people from all over the world the chance to taste Japanese whisky.
Since setting up in 2015, our team has grown extensively. Now, I am mainly responsible for the general direction of the business, what we choose to stock, and our brand and project development.
In your opinion, what makes Japanese whiskey stand apart from other alcohols?
I think the story of the Japanese whisky industry over the last 50 years is why Japanese whisky is so unique and collectible now. In the 80s and 90s, the demand for whisky globally fell, resulting in the closure of many Japanese distilleries. But not too long after, in the noughties and over the last decade, there has been a boom for all kinds of whisky, including Japanese. Due to the increased demand and distilleries having closed, Japanese whisky is scarce and valuable.
There’s also something about the elegance and grace that goes into the entire process of Japanese whisky production that makes it different. Many Japanese whiskies have the most beautiful story and concept behind them and the bottle designs are often works of art in themselves.
Because of rarity and increasing value in Japanese whisky, it is now being purchased as a collectible asset and as an investment. In short, I think it is the increasing demand for Japanese whisky paired with its culture and grace that makes it unique to any other alcohol.
What do you think attracts customers to dekantā specifically? Moreover, who is your target consumer base?
I think our track record of sourcing some of the world’s rarest and most collectible Japanese whisky is what attracts people to dekantā. Our authenticity and network of connections within the industry have meant that we have built a respected and reputable brand. We have relationships with private collectors, auction houses and online auction companies. It makes sense for consumers who are seeking out rare liquid to start their search at the world’s largest online retailer of Japanese spirits, dekantā.
In terms of our consumer base, we’re proud that our client base is very diverse and international. A significant portion of our clientele is based in the US. Many are affluent professionals with both the interest and income to seek out some of the finest whisky in the world. The interest in Japanese whisky spans multiple age groups – we have more mature buyers who have been searching for unique spirits for decades, who consider Japanese whisky as a valuable addition to their collections. There is also an interest from younger buyers emerging, who are realising how much of a trendy and cool drink Japanese whisky is quickly becoming. We’re extremely welcoming of new clients and ultimately, we target and aim to provide to consumers who share the same passion for fine, rare and beautifully presented Japanese spirits as we do.
Dekantā is not only focused on sharing Japanese whiskey with a larger, global community but also has a mission to find new whiskeys in Asia. Can you tell us about dekantā Oriental?
Sure, dekantā oriental is a venture we’re really excited about. The concept of sourcing high-quality and sought-after liquid is still the same, we are just widening out our search beyond Japan to find what other Asian countries have to offer. From the seemingly endless white beaches of Goa to the humid, dense forests of Taiwan, expect new horizons and a new wave of spirits produced in climates wildly different from Japan’s. With the view to celebrate and explore the produce of countries with strong links to Japan, we kicked off dekantā oriental with Taiwan. We partnered with a distillery, which we consider to be one of the best in Asia – Kavalan. A Yilan-based distillery that draws on its warm climate and pioneering techniques to create whisky like their solist vinho barrique, which has been crowned the best single malt in the world.
The Asian drinks scene is vibrant and diverse, how could we not expand our horizons? Liquid gold from the orient is now within grasp. Watch this space.
Are there certain dekantā products that you would recommend? Can you elaborate on them?
Sure, I’ll tell you about my top three dekantā products. Firstly, I highly recommend the Kyōyū, a 26-year-old whisky we released for dekantā’s 6th anniversary. Kyōyū means sharing in Japanese and the concept for this bottle is an ode to the shared craftsmanship between Scotland and Japan, which is just beautiful. The whisky itself is from three of Scotland’s best distilleries paired and expertly blended with young whisky from three of Japan’s rising stars. What is more of a pleasure than sharing a nice dram with loved ones?
Next up, I would recommend the Yamazaki 18-year-old. This is a super collectible bottle but also tastes amazing with notes of summer fruits and dark chocolate. It is considered one of the most popular Japanese whiskies there is.
The last product I would recommend to you is our Kavalan Solist Rum, single cask whisky. At dekantā we are always striving for innovation and this bottle is part of our exploration into oriental Asian liquids. This is the first rum-finished single cask whisky from Taiwan’s popular Kavalan distillery. Not only is it very collectible, but the whisky itself also tastes superb and is so unique. It introduces a different flavour balance from East Asia which we are so excited to be branching out into.
Finally, we would like to finish with a question that we ask during all of our interviews: what is your favourite way to enjoy a glass of whiskey? If there are any snacks you like to pair your drink with, please let us know that as well!
One of my favourite ways to enjoy a glass of whisky is sitting at my desk, going over my schedule for the coming days. I play jazz music, pour a glass, and find it such a chilled and relaxed way to finish up my day. In terms of snacks to go with whisky, I often enjoy it with some dark chocolate or toasted nuts.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! At Arigato Japan, we value the importance of being a platform upon which companies can share their missions and perspectives firsthand. Through interviews like this one, we hope to help others better understand and appreciate the nuances of specific companies like dekantā!
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