Being a huge Bill Murray fan I knew I had to visit the Suntory Yamazaki Whisky distillery when I was in Japan. It’s located by Yamazaki station in-between Kyoto and Osaka and you can reach it by the slow train from either of these cities.

Yamazaki distillery tour

The Yamazaki distillery runs a tour which we booked in advance on their website. The tour costs 1,000 yen each, otherwise you can view the shop and museum for free. While the tour is in Japanese I was given an English audio guide and I found it easy to follow the tour. I was the only non-Japanese person there.

I recommend you take the train or public transport to the distillery as Japan has a very strict no-drink-driving policy and the distillery was very hot on identifying if your car is in the car park and making sure you don’t get any of the whisky samples.

On entering the distillery I was surprised at how calm it was. It’s located in a beautiful area with a large garden surrounding it. Luckily I was with Tatsuya who speaks fluent Japanese which helped here.

Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Distillery in Japan
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

As we were early we explored the museum while waiting for the other people in our tour group to arrive. There was an impressive collection of whisky and I even found Jameson 🙂

Yamazaki whisky distillery museum
Yamazaki distillery museum
Found Jameson whisky in Suntory Yamazaki Distillery
Found Jameson
Whiskys in Suntory Yamazaki Distillery Japan
Whiskys

When the tour started I put on my audio guide and followed the group. The tour showed the distilling process and at each stop there was a number for me to tune into. If you’ve been to a distillery before then you’ll be familiar with the process and nothing here was out of the ordinary except the information about the water they use from the mountains called Rikyu no Mizu.

Whisky stills in Suntory Yamazaki Distillery Japan
Whisky Still
Whisky stills Suntory Yamazaki Distillery Japan
Still used in the distillery
Barrels of Whisky Suntory Yamazaki Distillery Japan
Barrels of Whisky

Whisky Tasting

After the tour we went to the tasting. This was a great chance to try the unblended whisky that makes up Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky. We tried four whiskies during the tasting and we had the option to mix it with soda water to make highballs (very popular in Japan).

At the end we visited the tasting counter. This was at a fee and we tried some of the whiskies with unusual names. There was a group of Japanese businessmen at the table next to us who were enjoying some of the 70 exotic whiskies on offer.

Tasting counter in Suntory Yamazaki Whisky distillery Japan
Me at the tasting counter

Overall it was a fun morning and I’m happy I had the opportunity to visit. It was easy to get to the distillery and reasonably priced so it’s definitely worth the visit if you want a day out from Kyoto or Osaka.

Suntory Time – Bill Murray from Lost in Translation (2003)

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