Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Distillery is a mecca for all whisky lovers and is a must visit if you’re a whisky fan. The Distillery is located between Osaka and Kyoto and is easily accessible via the JR Tokaido Line or the Hankyu Kyoto Main Line on the Hankyu Railway. The Distillery is a short ten minute walk, and is easily visible from the station.
You can enjoy the Distillery in two ways. You can explore the Yamazaki Whisky Museum at your own pace for free, but you won’t have the opportunity to view the production process. The other way is to reserve a guided tour of the Distillery. The tour includes the chance to view the production process as well as a tasting at the end.
Bookings are available up to three months in advance and there are several tours conducted daily, but the tour reservations fill up extremely fast, so it’s important to plan ahead.
We went with the Yamazaki Distillery Tour for 1,000 yen. We made a reservation three months in advance and was able to secure a 9:50 am reservation. The tour is in Japanese only, but English language audio guides are provided. For our tour, we were the only foreign tourists in the group.
The tour was very interesting and the guide was enthusiastic and animated when describing the process of making whisky. The smell of whisky will hit you the moment you walk into the building, and I thought I would get drunk just by inhaling! The tour takes you through the entire production process, as well as the explanation of the ingredients used in the process and finally a look at all the whisky barrels.
At the end of the tour there is an opportunity to try a single malt whisky and the components whiskies that make up the Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky.
A variety of complementary snacks are provided to go with the whisky tasting. There’s also the interactive component of crafting your own whisky high ball. The Premium Soda provided is made with the natural water of Yamazaki which is known for its clear taste.
After the tasting you’re free to visit the gift shop and wander the grounds. The reason I recommend trying to get an early morning tour spot is so that you can purchase the Suntory Single Malt Whisky that is exclusive to the Yamazaki Distillery. It costs just 1,440 yen and is limited to one per person.
As someone who is not particularly a fan of whisky I still had a really great time. The tour was informative and it went by quite quickly. I can definitely see a fan having a really great time doing this tour and trying the tasting at the end.