There's a pretty incredible history behind the Nikka brand. It's a story so wonderfully engaging that it's now currently airing as a Japanese telenovela called "Massan and Ellie" on the NHK network. Since Nikka has no involvment (and therefore no control) with the project, the names of Masataku Taketsuru and Jessie Roberta Cowan have been changed to "Massan and Ellie," but it's pretty clear who they're talking about. A Japanese-born chemist travels to Scotland to learn about whisky distillation, falls in love with a Scottish woman, marries her, and brings her back to Japan where she learns the language, culture, and customs, thereby helping him establish his own apple wine company, and eventually his own whisky.
Yes, the story of Nikka in Japan begins with apples. It's part of the reason that hard cider and apple wine continue to play a role in the company today.
I'll be back soon with the entire story; full of juicy, delicious details. We're off to Yoichi in a few minutes. Until then.