Kiuchi Shuzo’s Yasato Distillery now open for tours

Good news out of Ibaraki prefecture today: Kiuchi Shuzo has announced that the Yasato Distillery will be open to the public for tours starting this weekend. Getting there from Tokyo takes about 2 hours, making it an easy day trip for Japanese craft whisky fans in the Kanto area.

The Nukada Distillery guided tour runs about 60 minutes. The first 35 minutes take you through the distillery, and the remaining 25 minutes are for tastings. Tours will be offered on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays twice a day (10:45 AM and 2:25 PM). Each slot accommodates just ten visitors, so you’ll need to make a reservation in advance if you want to go. The cost is 1000 yen.

The bus schedule is available here. It looks like it’s about 30 minutes away from JR Ishioka Station. If you want, make a day of it by going to the Ibaraki Flower Park and hitting the Yasato Onsen, both on the same bus route.

Kiuchi Shuzo recently unveiled the company’s new whisky brand just before Whisky Festival in Tokyo 2022. It’s dubbed “Hinomaru Whisky.” Previously, whisky produced at the Nukada and Yasato Distilleries was only available to the public via single servings at their Hitanochi Nest brewpubs, the Tokyo Distillery, or a canned highball.

With Hinomaru Whisky, we’ll (maybe) be able to get our hands on actual bottles of the stuff. Beginning June of this year, the company plans to ship between 2000 and 5000 bottles of Hinomaru Whisky to various bars and restaurants in Ibaraki prefecture. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if some of those bottles find their way to Tokyo. One exciting thing about the Nukada’s whisky operation is that they’re making a wide variety of grain whisky alongside the malt, such as soba, wheat, and rice whiskies.

For a preview of what to expect at the Yasato Distillery, click here to read about Whisky Galore‘s visit back in April 2020.

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