Another check-mark on the Kansai bucket list.
I love whisky, and so do the Japanese. If you don’t I doubt anything about this post will interest you much – though to be fair, Yamazaki itself is a lovely little town with canals and Shrines and water so good that Sen no Rikyuu himself built a teahouse there. It’s that water, of course, that brought the founders of Suntory to Yamazaki to open their first distillery.
I’ve been to a couple of whisky distilleries before, most notably Edradour in Pitlochry, Scotland. That was an order of magnitude more beautiful and quaint, but any distillery is Heaven for me. The aroma of whisky is heavy in the air, especially in the dunnage warehouses where the barrels are stored, and it’s fascinating to see a Japanese take on this very Scottish art.
The tour itself is excellent (in Japanese but with English audio guide) and best of all, free – along with tastings afterwards. But I would say my favorite place was definitely the Whisky Library, where one could taste a wide array of limited and unreleased whiskies from the Suntory empire (which includes many distilleries outside Japan) and beyond. If I lived in Yamazaki I would have a very hard time staying away…