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SONIC AGING

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More than two and a half years ago, the idea was born: attach speakers directly to dedicated oak barrels and blast music into them, allowing the content to age to the sound and rhythm. This move draws on our musical roots—one of our key strengths that sets us apart from other outfits—and incorporates that unique strength into our product. This process, known as Sonic Aging, is an innovative approach to aging our distillate with music. While this practice is not entirely unknown, it is rare and typically done in large aging rooms with a speaker or two playing classical music to barrels or tanks. While that’s definitely cool, we thought we could make things even more interesting.

"This move draws on our musical roots..."

At Nishihira, we take it a few steps further. Each barrel is equipped with a custom speaker that plays a dedicated genre of music to it, each individually tailored to the barrels. As far as we know, we are the only distillery in the world doing it this way: playing different music to each barrel independently. Currently, we play reggae, hip hop, house, Latin, rock, and shima uta (a type of local folk music from Amami) to them separately. And there is more to come.

 

The barrels are housed in an isolated "music room" that we had specially constructed about a year ago. The speakers were fitted to the barrels back in November 2023. Our plan is to age the liquor for three years, with the intention of releasing limited edition "comparison sets" before the official launch set for 2026. This approach allows customers to get a sneak preview and explore the significant question: what difference does the music make? How does each genre impart different characteristics upon the liquor? How cool is that?? Having all six genres in a box—a music festival in a bottle! Does the Fuji Rock Festival come to mind? Only half a year in, we are already noticing notable differences between each style and have high hopes for the final product.

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"For instance, shima uta tends to have a more soothing effect with its lower frequencies, while genres like rock or hip hop introduce more energetic vibrations due to their higher tempo and bass-heavy nature".

The Science Behind Sonic Aging

Sonic Aging merges art and science in a distinctive manner. While the concept of using sound waves to influence chemical reactions is still emerging, the theory draws upon several scientific principles.

 

Sound waves, when propagated through a medium like air or liquid, create vibrations that can interact with molecules. In the case of aging shochu in barrels, these vibrations agitate the liquid inside. We believe this agitation influence the rate of chemical reactions occurring within the liquor, such as oxidation and interaction with the wood of the barrel.

 

Moreover, music itself has varying frequencies and intensities depending on genre. For instance, classical music tends to have a more soothing effect with its lower frequencies, while genres like rock or hip hop introduce more energetic vibrations due to their higher tempo and bass-heavy nature. We believe these vibrations impact how molecules within the distillate and the barrel interact, and in effect accelerating and modifying the aging process.

 

Each genre of music played to our barrels at Nishihira is carefully chosen and tailored to the characteristics we aim to impart to the liquors. For example, reggae with its relaxed rhythms and bass lines might impart a smoother, more laid-back profile, while rock music with its dynamic range and strong beats could influence a more robust flavor development.

 

By housing our barrels in a dedicated music room and playing distinct genres to each barrel individually, we maximize the exposure of our distillates to these musical influences. This approach allows us to explore how different genres affect the aging process and ultimately the flavor profile of our spirits.

 

As one of the few distilleries experimenting in this field, we want to push the boundaries of traditional aging techniques. Our ongoing experiments and observations aim not only to create exceptional products but also to deepen our understanding of the intricate relationship between sound, chemistry, and flavor.

 

Stay tuned as we continue to unravel the mysteries of Sonic Aging and prepare for the exciting launch of our limited-edition comparison sets. Experience a music festival in a bottle with Nishihira Distillery—where innovation meets tradition in every sip.

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Media Attention

SONIC AGING Clip

Escape Magazine

WithNews (Japanese)

Represent (Japanese)

NISHIHIRA DISTILLERY

11-21 KOMATA-CHO, NAZE,

AMAMI, KAGOSHIMA 894-0012, JAPAN

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*The legal drinking age in Japan is 20 years. ​*Drink driving is illegal.
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