Better known as Akashi or White Oak, sake and shōchū producer Eigashima has started whisky distillation in 1961. You can easily arrange a visit to the distillery from Osaka, Kyoto or Hiroshima by contacting Yuki Urabe. Private tours are held in English and are free of charge.
Located by the Seto Inland Sea, you can reach the distillery by JR lines via Akashi, plus a private local train to Nishi-Eigashima. From there, it is less than 10 min to walk.
Very eager and knowledgeable, Yuki guided us through the distillery grounds which included the sake production facility. We learned that whisky is only distilled in summer, while their workers are making sake in winter. Hiring more workers to increase the whisky production is taken into consideration. A little museum showcases how sake was made in the past, including some of the old equipment. You are allowed to take photos wherever you want. Just recently, White Oak has received its new pair of stills while the old stills were placed in front of the distillery building. All steps of whisky production are condensed in one large room, whereas casks are stored all over the distillery grounds. There is no real warehouse, since sake is not matured in casks. This might also explain why most Akashi single cask bottlings are rather young (3-5 years).
After the tour, we were led to the tasting room where we could sample two single cask whiskies (sake and bourbon cask), Akashi Single Malt and Akashi Blended Whisky. A selection of sake bottles was available for tasting as well. Some pours were free of charge, while others were moderately priced. Small bottles of new-make spirit and the two single casks could be bought at the distillery (the latter two for about 6,000 Yen each).
Since Eigashima is located so close to the sea, I do recommend to walk a few steps and sit at the shoreline. You can easily combine the distillery visit with a side trip to Himeji. Recommended!