Suntory is legendary for it’s food and beverage products. For people outside of Japan, it’s recent high profile acquisition of Jim Beam holdings probably raised it’s reputation.

Within Japan, however, it has long been linked to making quality whisky. The kakubin whisky, for example, named after the unique angular bottle, is a staple in highballs across the nation.

Being able to tour the Hakushu Distillery, then, is a dream come true for any whisky lover. For those not in the know, Hakushu Distillery is the second major Japan based distillery from Suntory, after Yamazaki. Hakushu Single Malt Whisky, in particular, is known by the chaps at “Master of Malt” as something that will “make a fantastic highball” in summer.

The Distillery is located in Hakushu, Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan. It is about a 2 hour drive from Tokyo central, depending on traffic conditions.

Alternatively, if you do not have a designated driver, you could take one of the Limited Express trains from Shinjuku station (Super Azusa, Azusa or Kaiji). The journey will take 2 hours as well and you do get a nice cushy seat for a comfortable ride.

When you arrive at Kobuchizawa station, there will be a free shuttle bus for tour participants. Please register for the tour beforehand as they may ask for your registration number or digital receipt.

After the short bus ride, you will arrive at the distillery. This spectacular location will strike you immediately with its lush nature and clean air. Hakushu distillery boasts that the refreshing flavor is derived from the clean water from it’s streams, something that one can tell from first impression. The distillery resembles a serene park more than a factory.

If you have signed up for a tour, the staff at the entrance will direct you to the museum, which is the starting point of the tour. From there, the guide will show you around the distillery. The entire tour takes about 90 minutes including the sublime tasting session.

In the tasting session, you can try Hakushu in 4 different styles. The first two are the component whiskies that go into the final product while you can also try the whisky on sale straight and in a highball.

Next, to make your visit even sweeter, please swing by the Hakushu bar. Here, you can try an assortment of Suntory Single malts and special releases. Of note is the chance to try the “holy trinity” of Suntory aged statements; Hibiki 30 years, Hakushu 25 years and Yamazaki 25 years at 2900 yen for a 15ml glass.

Try them, you will not regret it.

Finally, the bar is also next to the Hakushu store.

The Hakushu Bar stocks some of the rarest whiskies that Suntory has distilled. These include:

  • Hibiki Harmony 30 years
  • Yamazaki 25 Years
  • Hakushu 25 Years
  • Essence of Suntory Series
the holy trinity

Not only does the bar stock the rare whiskies, you can also sample them at extremely affordable prices. Who would have thought that you can try a Hibiki 30 Years for a mere 2900 yen (in comparison to bars in Shinjuku charging more than 10,000 per dram)

apologies for the blurry photo, but imagine being able to drink both the NAS and the 18 year for only 700 yen!

All in all, Hakushu Distillery is indeed worth visiting if you are even remotely interested in whiskies. The trip may be far, but I doubt if an enthusiast will regret the pilgrimage.