A taste of the highlands in Hokkaido
When it comes to whisky, Scotland is often the first country that comes to mind. However, there is another destination that has been making a name for itself in the world of whisky – Hokkaido, japan. And at the heart of Hokkaido’s whisky scene is the Nikka distillery in Yoichi.
Founded in the 1930s by Masataka Taketsuru, who is known as the father of Japanese whisky, the Nikka distillery has become a must-visit destination for whisky enthusiasts. The distillery is located in Yoichi, a small town west of Sapporo and close to Otaru. It is situated in a picturesque setting, surrounded by rolling hills and overlooking the Sea of Japan.
To get to the distillery, you can either take a train or drive. If you choose to take the train, you can hop on the JR Hakodate Line from Sapporo Station and make your way to Yoichi Station, via Otaru. The journey takes approximately one hour and 15 minutes and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Once you arrive at Yoichi Station, the distillery is just a short walk away.
As you step onto the grounds of the Nikka distillery, you will be transported back in time. The original stone buildings of the factory still stand, giving visitors a glimpse into the distillery’s history. One of the highlights of the tour is seeing the large copper pot still, which is still used to this day. Guided tours are available in Japanese, but if you prefer to explore at your own pace, you can download an English audio guide for your smartphone or tablet.
But the Nikka distillery is not just about whisky production – it is also a place to learn about the life of Masataka Taketsuru. Towards the end of the tour, you will find a museum dedicated to Nikka and Taketsuru. Here, you can see old photos and items that once belonged to Taketsuru and his wife, giving you a deeper understanding of their journey and the legacy they left behind.
After immersing yourself in the history of the distillery, it’s time to indulge in some whisky tasting. The tasting room offers a wide selection of whiskies to sample, including the signature Nikka whiskies. You can sample two kinds of whisky for free, and for a small fee, you can try some of the rare malt whiskies that are only available at the distillery. It’s a chance to experience the unique flavors and aromas that have made Japanese whisky so highly regarded around the world.
As you savor the whisky, take a moment to appreciate the surroundings. The distillery is surrounded by beautiful gardens, where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll and take in the stunning views of the surrounding hills. The grounds of the distillery stretch over 132,000 square meters, and parts of it are open to the public to explore. It’s a tranquil oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can truly unwind and appreciate the artistry of whisky-making.
The Nikka distillery in Yoichi is a testament to the passion and dedication of Masataka Taketsuru. His dream of creating high-quality whisky in Japan has become a reality, and the distillery continues to produce some of the finest whiskies in the world. Whether you’re a whisky connoisseur or simply curious about Japanese culture, a visit to the Nikka distillery is an experience that should not be missed.
In conclusion, the Nikka distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of Japanese whisky. From the historical stone buildings to the guided tours and whisky tasting, every aspect of the distillery is designed to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a whisky enthusiast or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, a visit to the Nikka distillery is sure to be a highlight of your time in Hokkaido. So, why not raise a glass and toast to the legacy of Masataka Taketsuru and the delicious whiskies he created. Cheers!
Address And Maps Location:
7-6 Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido