At Reza Wood Designs, we are very proud of our local town’s connection to Japanese whisky making so we’re launching a new product to celebrate, inspired by this incredible tale of adventure and true pioneering spirit.
For the love of whisky
In 1918 a young man from Japan arrived in Scotland eager to learn something new that he could introduce to his own country. He learned the art of Scotch Whisky making and subsequently returned to his home country with something that no one had done before- and a new product.
He chose to come to Glasgow and enrolled on a chemistry course at the University of Glasgow. Seeking lodgings, he moved in with a middle class family in Kirkintilloch. He fell in love with one of the daughters and subsequently married her despite family objections due to their different cultures.
Following work experience in some of Scotland’s distilleries, the pair soon returned to Japan to start their new life together and follow their dreams.
The young man was Masataka Taketsuru, a sake distiller from Hiroshima and together with his new bride, Rita Cowan from Kirkintilloch they went on to assist with Suntory's Yamazaki Distillery and then to start The Nikka Whisky company which is now Japan's second largest whisky producer. They founded their distillery in Yoichi in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, closer to Russia than to Tokyo.
Today the story of Masataka Taketsuru and Rita Cowan - and their whisky heritage connection with Kirkintilloch is well known - thanks to a Japanese tv drama based on the couple. And each year Japanese tourists make the pilgrimage to the small Scottish town of Kirkintilloch to find out more about Rita and her life in Scotland.