The Mercian corporation was once one of the major players in the Japanese wine and whisky industry. It was established in the 1930s and was mostly known for producing quality wines and spirits. During the post-war years it was one of the three bigs, along with Nikka and Suntory — it even had a special art gallery dedicated only to whisky. The company owned the Karuizawa distillery, where it made quality malt whiskies, and the Kawasaki distillery, where it made grain whiskies.
Kawasaki was set up in 1935 in Kawasaki prefecture on the outskirts of Tokyo. One of the smallest distilleries in Japan, it is not as well-known as its sister distillery Karuizawa. Kawasaki did, however, have a reputation for making excellent grain whisky.
The dynamic duo would continue to make whisky through the post-war years, until the 1980s industry downturn saw both distilleries fall into the hands of Kirin Holdings, who had no interest in whisky-making at the time. Soon both distilleries were mothballed and production ceased completely. The last stocks from Kawasaki and Karuizawa continue to exist thanks to the efforts of Ichiro Akuto, Number One Drinks, as well as the guys at Nonjatta, the well-respected Japanese whisky blog.