Producing almost entirely for the domestic market, Fuji Gotemba holds the record for being the world's largest whisky distillery. And yet, most people have never heard of it!
Kirin's distillery tour is free of charge and requires an online reservation. You can visit Gotemba on a day trip from Tokyo by taking the Gotemba Line from Kōzu Station. At Gotemba Station, ask for the distillery bus or take the local bus to Midoro (370 Yen). English audio guides are provided, as the tour is held in Japanese. A fancy video presentation on a huge screen introduces you to Fuji Gotemba, after which you are led to the production site. You are free to take photos through the glass windows while the tour guide explains in detail how whisky is been made. It was very interesting to see their multi-column still, kettle and doubler for grain whisky production, as well as their bottling street. Since Kirin also owns Four Roses, the source of their casks was more than obvious. Not a lot of sherry casks here.
The free tasting only included Fuji-Sanroku Signature Blend. Fortunately, a selection of other malts could be ordered at the bar (paid), for example their 17-year-old Single Malt and 25-year-old Single Grain whisky. As had to be expected, none of their age statement expressions were available at the distillery shop. Fuji-Sanroku Signature Blend and two NAS cask strength bottlings (70 cl / 20 cl) were the only options available.
A very nice location to visit, even though we didn’t see Mt. Fuji on that day… Did I mentioned that I visited Japan five times, and I never saw Mt. Fuji? Rumour has it that mountain doesn't even exist!