Updated: August 30, 2017
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A Practical Guide To Suntory's Whiskies And Distilleries!

Suntory is a very large brewing and distilling company group in Japan. Famous for its many excellent whiskey brands, Suntory has made open to the public 2 of its 3 distilleries. If you are interested in whiskey and in actually visiting the facilities rich in history and tradition, this article may be of good help!

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Yamazaki Distillery

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The most visited of the three establishments is the Yamazaki Distillery. The place is a virtual whisky museum. You'll find lots of information about the art of whisky making in Japan and how the country's whisky journey began with a presentation of the key historical figures and events. The most impressive part of the Distillery is the "whisky library" shown in the picture above.
At the gift shop, you can buy some whiskeys made at the Yamazaki Distillery (product availability varies). You can also buy elegant whiskey glasses and other products.
One of the most appreciated parts of the visit is the whiskey tasting experience you can have for a small fee. You get generous samples of the world's finest whiskeys so do not miss the opportunity! The younger whiskeys of the Yamazaki Distillery are lighter in color and are said to have a taste of vanilla, whereas the older ones are darker and have a taste that resembles coffee.

Access

From Osaka
< JR Osaka Station to the JR Yamazaki Station (25 min) >
< Hankyu Umeda Station to the Hankyu Oyamazaki Station (40 min) >

From Kyoto
< JR Kyoto Station to JR Yamazaki Station (15 min) >
< Hankyu Kawaramachi Station to Hankyu Oyamazaki Station (25 min) >

The distillery is located at a 10-minute walk from the Stations.

Operating hours are from 10:00-16:45.

For more details about the Yamazaki Distillery, please have a look at the link below.

Hakushu Distillery

The Hakushu Distillery is the second largest distillery by Suntory. It is located in a beautiful mountainous area of Yamanashi prefecture and has been in operation since 1973. It is said to be one of the highest distilleries in the world, and because of that, its products have a distinctive taste.
The facility is also a museum of sorts. Aside from the history of whiskey in Japan, you will also learn about how the climate affects the whiskey production.
Here too you are recommended to try the sampling of the fine products of the distillery. The whiskey of Hakushu is said to have a distinctive earthy and herbal taste. You will also have the chance to compare it with other whiskeys from around the world. It is also possible to purchase whiskey products at the factory shop.

Access

From Tokyo
< 2 hours from the JR Shinjuku Station to the Kobuchizawa Station (JR Azusa Limited Express) >
From the Kobuchizawa station, you can either take a shuttle bus (15 min) to the distillery or a taxi (10 min).

For more information about the Hakushu Distillery, please look at the link below.

Chita Distillery

Last but not least, Suntory also operates the Sungrain Chita Distillery located on the seashore of the Chita Peninsula. Unfortunately, this facility is not open to the public but you should take note of its highly-praised premium grain whiskey.
The complex taste of the Chita whisky comes from the fermentation process of the barley, corn, rye and wheat grains. You can use the grain whisky as a kind of dashi (a base taste) to mix with other whiskies.

For more information on the Chita Distillery, please have a look at the link below.

Lastly...

It may come as a surprise to many but Japanese people really love whisky! The country has a history of distilling of over 100 years now and Suntory is the definite leader in the field of whisky production. Trying Japanese whisky and visiting the facilities while you are there is definitely worth it!
tabikamome
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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