Japanese whisky has its own charm all over the world; more so when it is Yamazaki! When we were planning our Japan tour, we tried to fit in at least a few hours to see the Yamazaki Distillery.
If you are in Osaka or Kyoto, doing this activity is a piece of cake! When you see the google maps, it shows that the Yamazaki Distillery is almost between Osaka and Kyoto, although it is slightly closer from Kyoto.
How to Reach?
Regardless of Kyoto or Osaka, take the JR Tokaido-Sanyo line (use your JR pass if you have) from Kyoto Station or Shin-Osaka Station and get down at Yamazaki Station. From Yamazaki Station, it is less than 10 minutes’ leisure walk to the distillery.
We did this one afternoon from Kyoto and it was a lot of ‘whisky’ learning!
What to do in Yamazaki Distillery?
Yamazaki Distillery has guided distillery tours at 1000 Yen per person. This includes the guided tour plus tasting few component whiskies (not for sale) which is used to make Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky. If you want to do this activity, you will have to book a lot in advance. The slots are available between 9:30 PM and 3:00 PM. If you walk in before 3:00 PM, you may have a chance to join this tour if someone else doesn’t turn up on time.
Note – You don’t get to taste any aged Yamazaki Malt Whiskies in this tour. You get to taste ONLY Component whiskies in this 1000 Yen distillery tour.
We initially wanted to do this. We tried checking a month before our visit but couldn’t get any free slots for the day we wanted. On the day, we arrived the distillery at 3:30 PM so there was no chance we could get it anyway! All tours close before 3:00 PM.
Yamazaki Whisky Museum
As we couldn’t get slots for the distillery tour, we booked the Yamazaki Whisky Museum Viewing activity. Museum Viewing also needs to be booked in advance. It is a good idea to do this Museum Viewing because we can then choose the whiskey to drink at the museum bar. This way, you get a free viewing of the museum and you only pay for what you choose to taste.
Now, looking back, I am quite happy we did that. I was not really interested in tasting component whiskies. I wanted to taste 3 specific whiskies (that I had in mind) which I later did at the museum bar. Below is what I tried –
- Hibiki 21 Years
- Yamazaki malt 18 Years
- Yamazaki malt 12 years
The Museum Bar
Like I mentioned before, when you do the distillery tour, you get to drink the component whiskies inside the distillery and not at the Museum Bar.
The Museum Bar has a vast collection of whiskies (typical to the place) you may want to taste. The serving size of each order is 15 ml and you can order the same twice! These whiskies are prices between 600-1000 Yen per 15 ml. My above order was billed to approx. 2000 Yen.
Tip 1 – They don’t have finger food or bar snacks available. Plan your meals accordingly!
Tip 2 – They don’t accept credit cards in the Museum Bar (but they do accept in the gift shop next to it)
So, if you don’t get a slot at the distillery tour then don’t dishearten. I would strongly suggest you book the Yamazaki Whisky Museum Viewing Activity (which is free of cost) and then choose to drink what you want to. This way, you also know what you are paying for!
There is ample seating at the bar. They also have a beautiful lawn just outside the bar where you could sit too!
Yamazaki Distillery Gift Shop
There is a gift shop above the Bar. They have good collection of Yamazaki souvenirs and also other whiskies. Apart from the malt and blended whiskies, they also have whisky-based chocolates and sweets. Do look around and you may find something interesting to take back home. Buying a bottle here is cheaper than at the airport duty-free.
Note – They do accept credit cards in the gift shop.
Regarding the taste, it wasn’t much according to my taste; however, I did have a good time. The outdoor lawn seating is an excellent choice for tasting whisky (quite alfresco)!
The staff is friendly and welcoming and it is, for sure, a wonderful activity when in Japan. I did learn a thing or two about these whiskies!
Know about Sake tasting from Kyoto or Osaka –
Know about ideas on Vegan and Vegetarian food in Japan –