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Japan Distillery Tours

Slàinte Mhath
Administrator Administrator
Posted on 09-11-2018 at 10:09 am
Dear friends of Japanese whisky,

although I have been to Japan fours times in recent years, I only managed to visit Yamazaki and Yoichi distillery thus far. I am now planning a new trip to the land of the rising sun in 2019, and I am really interested in your experiences with Japanese distillery tours. Which places do you recommend to visit? Are there places that are hard to reach with a Japan Rail Pass? Are there any distillery-only bottlings which are of interest?

I was considering to visit Hakushu, Chichibu, Miyagikyo and eventually Eigashima Shuzo. Is there anything left to visit at Hanyu and Karuizawa? Do you have suggestions for other cultural places that might be combined when visiting these Japanese distilleries, like famous temples, shrines or beautiful nature hikes?

Any recommendations are welcome!

-Slainte
“There is no such thing as bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.” (W. Faulkner)
Theli
Connoisseur Connoisseur
Posted on 09-11-2018 at 10:51 am

hi timo,

i can recommend these distilleries for a visit: hakushu, chichibu and fuji gotemba.

all of them are in a day trip distance from tokyo and easy to book a tour.

eigashima shuzo and shinshu mars are also recommended but more difficult to arrange a visit. 

non of them offer handbottled whisky but hakushu and sometimes shinshu mars have some distillery only in stock.

miyagikyo is on my to do list and i have not visited it yet.

culture: nara is a recommendation and kyoto. here you can find a lot of temples, shrines etc.

bars: zoetrope, tokyo; main malt bar, kobe

shops: sake shop sato, osaka

brgds and have lots of fun there happy

wolfgang

z-imaging
Connoisseur Connoisseur
Posted on 09-11-2018 at 11:09 am

Hakushu is perfect for one day trip from Tokyo and can be done with the Japan Rail Pass. Chichibu was a bit more complicated and as I remember train wasn't part of JR so you have to get a ticket. For both distilleries you will need a taxi from the station. Chichibu are not selling bottles in the distillery (there is no "official" tour there), you can get only a t-shirthappy. From Hakushu you can get the 300ml distillery only bottle and if you're lucky there might be some Hibiki left

riekio
Expert Junior Junior Expert
Posted on 09-11-2018 at 11:48 am

Hi Timo,


Hakushu is quite beautiful and worth a visit so I have heard, and doable from Tokyo as a day trip. But I can not verify as I have not gone. 


Kirin Fuji-gotemba is fun - if you do a day trip you can also add Mount Fuji as it’s quite close. You can get most of the way with your rail pass but need to take a taxi to the distillery. I actually walked back to the Gotemba station (I think that’s the one) from the distillery and it was a very pleasant ~45 min walk


chichibu of course is a must, and is also doable as a day trip from Tokyo. I believe you can use your pass to get to chichibu station but then again need to taxi to the distillery. I used google maps to go from Tokyo station to chichibu and it was very straightforward, though the trains were not frequent.  However, for this tour you need to email Yumi their brand ambassador as it is not a public tour. Let me know if you want her contact. 


Miyagikyo just outside of Sendai is beautiful and you can use your railpass to get almost the whole way there. The distillery bus will pick you up from the train station. I recommend also going to Yamadera for a beautiful hike into their mountain temples and then doing the distillery on the way back, or vice versa. They are quite close to each other and on a JR line


i have not been to any of the mars distilleries and as such can not speak to them


cheers 


Logan 


riekio
Expert Junior Junior Expert
Posted on 09-11-2018 at 11:50 am

Karuizawa is gone, although one of the new distilleries that opened in Japan has one of their stills and retrofitted it for use? I’m not 100% sure on that story and will try to verify at a later time (in transit to Suzhou China right now) 


Chichibu has the old hanyu still outside it’s distillery...

Slàinte Mhath
Administrator Administrator
Posted on 09-11-2018 at 22:57 pm
Thanks for your feedback so far! Sounds like Chichibu, Hakushu and Miyagikyo are the main places to go. I will also check Fuji Gotemba. I have tried to visit Mt. Fuji twice, always hidden in clouds. Maybe I am luckier this time.

-Slainte
“There is no such thing as bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.” (W. Faulkner)
tarax69
Expert Senior Senior Expert
Posted on 10-11-2018 at 17:44 pm

I've been to Japan twice, and have visited Chichibu. Yoichi and Yamazaki, as well as a fair amount of bars in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Sapporo. Here are a few links to blog articles I have written on my travels:

- Visiting Chichibu Distillery

- Visiting Yoichi Distillery

- Japan - survival guide for the whisky drinker

- Review of Shot bar Zoetrope, Tokyo

- Review of Bar Atrium en, Tokyo

- Review of Single Malt Bar Moonshine, Tokyo

- Review of The Bow Bar, Sapporo


Cheers!

  Edited on 10-11-2018 at 17:45 pm
Hiroshi Ryutani
Expert Senior Senior Expert
Posted on 21-11-2018 at 08:49 am

Hello Timo,

Distillery:
 I recommend all of 3 : Chichibu, Hakushu, Miyagikyo.
 Also if you have time Fuji-Gotenba is recommended.
 You can reserve distillery tour on the web except Chichibu.
 If you want to reserve tour of Chichibu distillery, you need to contact Yumi-san or Akuto-san. Also I can arrange the tour.

 
Bar:
 If you are interested in Japanese Whisky, Zoetrope is good for you, but as you know, special Japanese whisky is so expensive.
 If you want to drink Scotch single malt, The Mash tun(Meguro, Tokyo) and Campbelltoun Loch(Yurakucho, Tokyo) is recommended.
 Also if you are going to go Miyagikyo, LE BAR KAWAGOE(15 minuts from Sendai station) is great place.


Shop:
 LIQUORS HASEGAWA (Yaesu, Tokyo, Japan)
 SHINANOYA  GINZA(Ginza, Tokyo, Japan)
 TANAKAYA(Mejiro, Tokyo, Japan) 
 (But, I don't think you can find special Japanese whisky.)

 Hiroshi

Hiroshi Ryutani
Slàinte Mhath
Administrator Administrator
Posted on 07-02-2019 at 11:35 am

Theli wrote:

eigashima shuzo and shinshu mars are also recommended but more difficult to arrange a visit.


Just for the records and for anyone who is interested to visit Eigashima Shuzo in Akashi:

Distillery tours are now available and can be booked by contacting Yuki Urabe.

Contact details and more information can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/Akashi.Kamitaka/posts/163950510890667

“There is no such thing as bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.” (W. Faulkner)
Slàinte Mhath
Administrator Administrator
Posted on 07-02-2019 at 11:40 am

Thanks for all your recommendations and insights. I have now arranged visits to:

- Chichibu
- Eigashima Shuzo
- Fuji Gotemba
- Hakushu
- Miyagikyo
- Yamazaki

Kanpai!

“There is no such thing as bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.” (W. Faulkner)
Slàinte Mhath
Administrator Administrator
Posted on 03-08-2019 at 19:53 pm

I have written a little travel report of my Japan distillery tour in the main forum:

https://www.whiskybase.com/contribute/group/73/topic/17837/japanese-whisky-at-the-crossroads-a-travel-report

“There is no such thing as bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.” (W. Faulkner)
Niels V
Member Senior Senior Member
Posted on 22-09-2019 at 22:07 pm

Hi fellow Japanese Whisky lovers, I am trying to set up a tour, leaving from Shiphol (Amsterdam) in February (Including 16 February in Japan (Chichibu Whisky Matsuri), so last possible leaving day will be February 14) where I will lead 10-14 people to at least 9 distilleries in Japan and the Chichibu Whisky Matsuri in approx. 2 weeks time, making use of business hotels, Japanese railways, probably one extra internal flight.

I've already arranged the following:

- Exclusive use of The Mash Tun in Tokyo for one afternoon and probably also for Rubin's Vase in Nagoya.

- Visiting the best hi-ball bar in Tokyo in two groups (Rock Fish)

- Visiting Chichibu Whisky Matsuri (Tickets arranged via the organiser)

Distilleries on the roster for now are:

Miyagikyo (Sendai)

Hakushu (Yamanashi)

Shinshu (Nagano)

Fuji Gotemba (Shizuoka)

Chichibu (Saitama)

Yamazaki (Kyoto)

Eigashima Akashi (Hyogo)

Kunosuke (Kagoshima)

Tsunuki (Kagoshima)


Possible:

- Nagahama (Shiga)

- Gaiaflow (Shizuoka)

- Yoichi (Shiribeshi)


Due to time constraint probably impossible: Akkeshi (Other side of Hokaido)

Bars:

- Mash Tun

- Josie's well (Official bar for Glen Livet)

- Rock Fish (Best Hi-Balls in town, home made sandwiches)

- t Airigh (Chichibu Whisky Bar, home made deserts)

- Rubin's vase (Best whisky bar in Nagoya)

And many more, but with the above bars, I should be able to make appointments for exclusive use for some hours or at least book a visit.


I currently have 5 people joining in. it's a non-profit but also no cost to me effort.

Bachess and McDeffe have joined me on a trip some years ago. 

I'll book the flights and 1 hotel night through a travel agent, so the most expensive part of the trip is insured. The rest, I'll book privately, usually payable at the location. Aiming to keep everything (Hotels, flights, train) to under 2500. Excluding taxi's for the final bits to the distilleries and back, food and whisky ^^;;;;;;

Contact me for more information.

Please note that this is a non-profit one time only thing. I am not interested, currently, in doing this commercially.

Ik ben GEEN whisky expert. Dank u.
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