Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries are finally reopening

Suntory has announced that they’re reopening their Yamazaki Distillery and Hakushu Distillery to the public for tours. Tours resume May 13, 2022.

Suntory ended tours at both distilleries on February 29, 2020. So it’s been two years and change since any member of the public has been allowed to visit! In fact, even the press hasn’t been allowed inside. Our only choice was to visit virtually.

Prior to covid, around 130,000 visitors made their way to the Yamazaki Distillery every year. Given the distillery’s convenient location between Kyoto and Osaka–a location that Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii was pretty adamant about specifically because of tourism–it’s something of an easy pilgrimage for even casual fans of whisky.

I told him that Hokkaido is best suited for a whisky distillery, but he replied, ‘products that people can’t go and see being made at a factory won’t sell well. The factory has to be near Osaka.’

Masataka Taketsuru, Nikkei Shimbun

One thing Suntory is yet to make clear is whether or not the on-site tasting bars at each distillery will also re-open. These bars were always the most reliable and reasonably priced places to sample even the company’s most premium offerings from their standard lineup, so it would be a huge disappointment should they not come back. Prior to covid, only visiting the tasting bars or gift shops didn’t require reservations, so there’s a chance that setup could also change.

Reservations for tours of the Yamazaki Distillery begin at 10AM JST on May 9, so keep your eyes on the official tour page if you want to visit. Hakushu has its page here.

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