Distillery Tour Bucket List--Suntory-Hakushu-Distillery

Distillery Tour Bucket List--Suntory-Hakushu-Distillery

Travel is something that is on the top of everyone’s wish and bucket lists. It doesn't matter where, people want to see new things and have a few different once in a lifetime experience. It could be the old romantic finally booking that flight to Paris or the retired couple loading up the RV and visiting every state in the US where wheels can get them. For us though, it would be hitting some of the best and most fantastic distilleries in the world. My first stop on my wish list that I would hope to visit for real someday is Suntory Hakushu Distillery in beautiful Yamanashi, Japan.

Doing some research into Suntory Distillery reminds me of how easy it is to think of foreign places as some monolithic stereotype. Not in a negative way, but in that sense of what pop-culture and the news ends up putting in our heads. Just like the US is more than L.A. and New York, Japan is more than the techno lights and urban amazingness that is Tokyo. Suntory is located in a blissful natural setting surrounded by forest, mountains, and the Ojira River. Looking at it reminds me of the Pacific Northwest.

The natural wonders of the area are one of the reasons the Suntory Hakushu Distillery set up shop there. The water of the Ojira River is listed by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment as one of the purest sources of water in the country and is fed by the snowmelt from the surrounding mountains. With water being the base of all whiskey, this makes for a great start of for every bottle Suntory makes. The distillery also maintains many green initiatives so that they can do right by this gift from nature.

The distillery is a marvel of modern distilling backed up with the best techniques and tricks from other distilling traditions from around the world, and throughout the ages. They craft an excellent line of single malt whiskeys that are some of the best in the world. It’s no wonder that Suntory Hakushu Distillery has won two gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge in 2003 and 2006.

One thing about the Suntory Hakushu Distillery is that they have lots to offer people wanting to tour their site. Their store, called In the Barrel, has items that are only available there like special single malts, shot glasses and tumblers, and snacks designed to go perfectly with their whiskey. The only drawback – there is a limit of one bottle per customer for some of their whiskeys.

There is also the Hakushu Bar, where visitors can try a wide selection of what Suntory has to offer and The White Terrace Restaurant. They offer fine dining with food made with fresh local ingredients in a setting that surrounds the diner with the natural wonder of the region.

The Suntory Whisky Museum takes visitors on a walk through of the company's history and the general history of whiskey itself, including some of the nuts and bolts of what goes into making it. The museum also has an observation deck where patrons can look at the beauty of the Hakushu natural area. This, along with many other steps Suntory highlights how they take the stewardship of the area seriously. Every tour isn’t just a walkthrough of the whiskey manufacturing process. It’s also a nature walk. The distillery has even started a bird sanctuary so visitors can see even more of what nature has to offer there.

It should be noted that all tours have to be made via reservation, as well as plans to dine at The White Terrace. So, call ahead and prepared to be amazed.