A distributor has been set up to bring Japanese whisky to the UK.

The Number One Drinks Company, a joint venture between the founding publisher of Whisky Magazine, Marcin Miller, and David Croll, a Tokyo-based whisky importer and distributor, started shipping samples to the UK this week.

The company said it will focus on the smaller independent companies in Japan, whose products have only been available domestically.

An initial shipment of single cask bottlings from the now-defunct Hanyu distillery landed in the UK on Wednesday (18 October). The whisky will be offered to both the on- and off-trade.

Due the small size of shipments, the single malts - including Ichiro's Malt Card series - will only be available from whisky specialists, including Berry Bros & Rudd, Royal Mile Whiskies and The Whisky Exchange.

A second shipment in early 2007 will feature whiskies from several other distilleries.

"Whisky enthusiasts are intrigued by Japanese whisky and tend to be very impressed when they get to taste them," said Miller. "The aim of the Number One Drinks Company is to make these excellent whiskies more readily available."