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Enter Japan's Top Whisky Distilleries: Suntory & Nikka Whisky

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by Kate Ng

 

An introduction into the history of Whisky production in Japan dates back to the Taisho era (1912-1926), with the Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii. Torii hired Masataka Taketsuru, who learned how to brew whisky in Scotland in the early 1920s. Taketsuru played a key role in establishing the Suntory Yamazaki distillery before leaving to form his own whisky venture, Nikka. 

Forming the best regarded makers of whisky in Japan, Suntory and Nikka Whisky have taken the world by storm with award-winning single malts that connoisseurs now covet. A trip to Japan would therefore not be complete without a visit! Here’s what one needs to know about their most popular distilleries and how to get there.

 

The Yamazaki Distillery Plant.
Image Courtesy of Reuters.

 

SUNTORY: YAMAZKAI DISTILLRY

Located at the base of Mt. Tennozan amidst bamboo forests and access to one of the best natural mineral waters sources in the country, the Yamazki Distillery benefits from not only its surrouding lush landscape but also the moist climate which well suits the aging of single malt whisky. 

Yamazki Whisky is Suntory's flagship single malt whisky and its aromas are multi-layered with fruit and Mizuara.

 

A variety of rare Yamazaki whiskies are available on Luxglove.

Image Courtesy of Suntory Whisky. 


As part of the guided tour, visitors will be brought to see where the whisky casks are stored. The signature "Suntory Maturation" at the Yamazaki Distillery. 
Image Courtesy of Suntory Whisky.


For a small fee, one can try a wide range of whiskies at the Yamazaki Tasting Bar. 
Image Courtesy of The City Lane. 


Getting There

Location: Yamazaki 5-2-1, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka, 618-0001; Japan

 

 

Getting to the Yamazaki Distillery. 

Image Courtesy of Suntory Whisky.

 

From Osaka: 

  • JR Osaka Station to JR Yamazaki Station (about 25 minutes)

  • Hankyu Umeda Station to Hankyu Oyamazaki Station (about 40 minutes)

From Kyoto: 

  • JR Kyoto Station to JR Yamazaki Station (about 15 minutes)

  • Hankyu Kawaramachi Station to Hankyu Oyamazaki Station (about 25 minutes)

  • The distillery is located about 10 minutes on foot from JR Yamazaki Station and Hankyu Oyamazaki Station.

 

*Please note that prior reservations are needed for the guided tours and there are no public parking for visitors to the distillery.The Yamazaki Distillery will also be temporary closed on August 22nd, 23rd, 24th, September 14th 2017 due to the maintenance of plant equipment. More information can be found here

 

The Hakushu Distillery is one of the highest distilleries in the world, built amidst the deepest forests of Mt. Kaikomagatake.
Image Courtesy of Suntory Whisky.

 

SUNTORY: HAKUSHU DISTILLERY

Founded half a century after Yamazaki, the Hakushu distillery is a vision of innovation. Surrounded by majestic greenery, the malt whiskies that the Hakushu distillery produces attributes their distinct nature from the surrounding lanscape and climate. The water that is used within the production of Hakushu whiskies offer a rare softness and purity, made possible by the natural filtration of rain and snow through thousand-year old granite rocks. 

Known as the "green and fresh" whisky, Hakushu's single malt is gently smoky with tinges of herbal notes that gives off a uniquely crisp and vibrant feel.

 

A variety of rare Hakushu Whiskies are available on Luxglove
Image Courtesy of Suntory Whisky.


Patiently waiting for the maturation of Hakushu whisky.
Image Courtesy of Suntory Whisky.  


Getting There

Location: 2913-1, Torihara, Hakushu-cho, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi

 

Getting to the Yamazaki Distillery. 

Image Courtesy of Suntory Whisky.


By Train:

  • Approximately 120 minutes from JR Shinjuku Station to Kobuchizawa Station on the JR Chuo Main Line using the JR Azusa Limited Express.

  • Approximately 10 minutes from Kobuchizawa Station by taxi, or 15 minutes using the limited-period shuttle bus.

By Car:

  • The distillery is located 15 minutes by car from the Kobuchizawa Interchange on the Chuo Expressway.

  • Parking capacity: 200 passenger cars (Large buses can also be accommodated.)

By Bus:

  • From Nirasaki to Hakushu Distillery No. 3 boarding area at Nirasaki Station → Matsubarakami (the closest bus stop to the distillery)

  • From Hakushu Distillery to Nirasaki Matsubarakami (the closest bus stop to the distillery) → Nirasaki Station

 

 

* Please note that prior reservations are needed for the guided tours. The distillery will be temporarily closed on the 27th of September 2017 due to the maintenance of plant equipments. More information can be found here

 

Nikka Whisky: Yoichi Distillery.
Image Courtesy of Nikka Whisky.


NIKKA WHISKY: YOICHI DISTILLERY

Located 50km west of Sapporo city in southern Hokkaido, Nikka's Yoichi Distillery is surrounded on three sides by mountains and one side facing the coast. The secret to the Yoichi distillery's distinct whiskies lies in the direct heating distillation, where the pot stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal. This traditional method is hardly ever used today, even in Scotland. 

 

Nikka's Yoichi distilled whiskies are know to be rich, peaty and masculine with a tinge of fruit, spices and nuts.  

The Yoichi 20 Year Old 1990. Available on Luxglove


These Nikka whisky casks reflect a rich history and dedication to excellence.
Image Courtesy of TripAdvisor. 


Yoichi whisky sale parlour. 
Image Courtesy of TripAdvisor. 


Getting There

Location: 7-6 Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun,Hokkaido 046-0003

 

Getting to Yoichi Distillery.
Image Courtesy of Google. 


*Distillery tours are free with special guided and self guided tours available. Whisky tasting is limited to one glass per each brand. More information can be found here

 

 

Nikka Whisky: Miyagikyo Distillery.
Image Courtesy of Nikka Whisky.


NIKKA WHISKY: MIYAGIKYO DISTILLERY 

The clean air, perfect humidity and an abundant supply of fresh underground whater filtered thorugh a layer of peat are the main reasons for why the Miyagikyo distillery was set up in the northern part of Japan. By chance, Nikka's founder, Masataka come upon this site enclosed between mountains and sandwiched between two rivers while travelling in the area. 

 

Using mild peaty malt and distilled in a pot still heated by indirect steam, the Miyagikyo single malt whiskies have an elegant fruitiness and a unique aroma of Sherry casks. 

 

Nikka Miyagikyo Sherry Cask. Available on Luxglove



Whisky warehouse.
Image Courtesy of Nikka miyagikyo distillery.


The very four unique bottles made here! Miyagikyo Single Malt. Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky. Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky and Date (which is only for sale in the Miyga Prefecture).
Image Courtesy of whisky.enlightenment.


Getting There

Location: Nikka 1, Aoba, Sendai City, Miyagi 989-3433

 

Getting to Miyagikyo Distillery.
Image Courtesy of Google. 


*Distillery tours are free with special guided and self guided tours available. Whisky tasting is limited to one glass per each brand. More information can be found here

 

 


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.



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