A few weeks ago I went to the Yamazaki Distillery in Kyoto. Suntory Yamazaki specializes in whiskey, which is known worldwide. While I’m not a huge whiskey person, I wanted to check it out anyways as the tour sounded really cool.
The tour itself was fairly short but accessible to most people. There was a Japanese tour guide but audio guides of various languages were available. It explained how the company made their whiskey which was interesting to hear about.
The best part of the tour though was at the very end. All the tourists are led to a nice room with a few bartenders. In there you are treated to a couple of free glasses of their 12 year old whiskey brand. The option we got was whiskey and soda as well as whiskey and water. I liked the former more than the latter but they were both delish. We even got bar snacks to go along with it:
Another amusing part of this taste testing was the music. While we were drinking the whisky they were playing this 70s lounge music that for some reason reminded me of some Mad Men montage. It was amazing though:
Near the end of the taste test, the tour guide walked up to our table and started talking to us happily. I think she was happy to see foreigners visiting the distillery. We chatted with her for a bit and she was surprised that we were able to communicate in Japanese. Finally she asked one of my friends “So, how do you usually like your whiskey?”
“Oh, I usually drink it straight.”
“Is that so? Would you like it straight?”
“…sure, why not?”
Our tour guide smiled and walked back to the bartenders, whispering our request. They quickly nodded and went to the back. Not too long after they came back with a tray of shot glasses full of delicious whiskey and came to our table. No one else got this special request. I guess being a foreigner has its perks sometimes, huh?:
After the taste test was over (and being slightly intoxicated) we, headed over to the “library”. The library is basically an area that has shelves full of whiskeys from different ages. According to their website, the library has around 7000 bottles of whiskey. Seeing that there were halls packed with whiskey bottles, I wouldn’t be surprised:
Our final stop was at the gift shop. I felt like I had to get a small bottle of the whiskey I had because it was delicious. My friends stopped at the bar inside the distillery to get more whiskey-based cocktails. It was pretty funny to be buzzed at 11 AM on a Sunday afternoon. If you’re a fan of alcohol and are in the Kansai region, I would recommend going to the Yamazaki Distillery tour. The best part? It’s free!