After about 10 months of renovation work since the tour was suspended on December 19, 2022, Hakushu Distillery finally reopened on October 2, 2023.
Suntory Holdings Limited will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Yamazaki Distillery this year in 2023.
To commemorate this, the Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries are creating a buzz with their 100th anniversary commemorative labels and limited edition highball cans, while the Yamazaki Distillery will begin renovation work on May 1, 2023 and is currently closed for tours.
Suntory’s second distillery, “Hakushu Distillery,” which was completed in 1973, also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year , making it a double year for the distillery.
In this article, we would like to explain how to make reservations for tours of the Hakushu Distillery, which will reopen on October 2, as well as an overview of the distillery and Suntory’s general history.
1. Suntory Holdings Limited
The company was originally “Torii Shoten“, which was established in Osaka in 1899 by Shinjiro Torii at the age of just 20.
While earning a living through importing, his fortified wine “Akadama Port Wine” became a big hit.
He famously built Japan’s first whisky distillery, the “Yamazaki Distillery”, using the money he earned from the Akadama Port Wine business.
Shinjiro, who loved to show off, was also enthusiastic about advertising, and his advertising department at the time included Akutagawa Award-winning author “Ken Kaiko”, Naoki Award-winning author “Hitomi Yamaguchi”, and Toshiro Kataoka, which led to the current major advertising production company, Sun-Ad. The advertisements that they launched attracted attention one after another, further accelerating their sales and name recognition.
They are also known for being the first to shoot nudes in Japan.
List of distillery details
History of Suntory
Roughly 100 years of Suntory history
|Started construction of Yamazaki Distillery
|Full-fledged domestic whisky “Shirofuda” was released
|“Kakubin” was released
|“Torys Whisky” was released
|“Old” was released
|“Royal” was released
|“Special Reserve” was released
|Established “Sun Grain Corporation”, the predecessor of Chita Distillery
|Hakushu Distillery completed
Yamazaki and Hakushu Distilleries underwent major renovations to further improve quality
“Yamazaki” was released
|“Hibiki” was released
|“Hakushu” was released
|“Yamazaki Aged 12 Years” won a gold medal for the first time at the “International Spirits Challenge (ISC)”, a world-class sake competition. Since then, Yamazaki has won top awards in numerous sake competitions.
|Began marketing “Kaku Highball”.
|First Japanese company to win the “Distiller of the Year” award at the “ISC”.
|Acquired shares of Beam, Inc. in the U.S., expanding portfolio and acquiring global sales and distribution network
|“Hakushu Aged 25 Years” receives the Trophy, the highest award in the Japanese whisky category, at the “ISC”.
Suntory Whisky celebrates its 100th anniversary.
2. About Hakushu Distillery
Suntory’s second distillery.
It started operation in 1973 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Yamazaki Distillery.
With the aim of producing whisky different from that of the Yamazaki distillery, Suntory embarked on a water quality survey.
Tameo Onishi, who had served as the plant manager of the Yamazaki Distillery and was known as the “water hunter” for his deep knowledge of water, was assigned to conduct the survey and chose Hakushu as the site.
The construction was led by Keizo Saji, Suntory’s second president and master blender.
The location and facilities are focused on producing a variety of different types of sake, and the lineup of 16 distillation units, eight each for first distillation and redistillation, is breathtaking.
The brewing water used is soft water with a hardness of about 30 degrees from the Southern Alps.
The distillery is called the “distillery in the forest” because of the clean, crystal-clear sake produced from the soft water.
The distillery has 18 wooden Douglas fir (Douglas fir) fermentation tanks and 6 stainless steel fermentation tanks for grain whiskey.
The distillery features long fermentation and open-flame distillation, and the café gin and café malt made with a Forsyth Coffey continuous distillation machine, which was introduced in 2013, have a large number of core fans.
Like the Yamazaki distillery, the new distillery also employs floor malting and, in order to achieve even greater originality, has introduced a “yeast cultivation process” in which yeast is cultivated in-house.
The 820,000 m2 site is approximately 17 times the size of the Tokyo Dome, and the distillery is actively involved in nature conservation activities, including the establishment of a bird sanctuary for the protection of wild birds.
The Whisky Museum adjacent to the distillery is a place where you can literally touch the history of whiskey, and the top floor of the museum is an observatory from which you can see the Southern Alps and Hakushu forest.
The Suntory Natural Water Minami-Alps bottling plant is also located on the site.
3.Details of the Renewal
Please see the following quote from PRTIMES regarding the renewal of the facility.
The following is from the official PRTIMES website
▼ Visitor Center
As the common entrance to both the Hakushu Distillery and the Suntory Natural Water Southern Alps Hakushu Plant, we aimed to create a facility that would allow visitors to learn about the charm of the “Hakushu Forest” that encompasses the two facilities and their entire grounds. The building materials and design incorporate granite, forest, and water, all of which are essential elements of the natural environment of Hakushu. In addition to the reception desk for site tours and visits, a new diorama will be installed to provide a visual understanding of the entire site, and a “Visitor Center Gift Shop” will be available for the purchase of original goods from the two factories.
▼ Bird Sanctuary
Since its completion in 1973, Hakushu Distillery has been preserving the environment that nurtures abundant nature and clean water by establishing a bird sanctuary on the grounds of the distillery. This time, in order to make visitors feel more familiar with the natural environment of Hakushu, we have newly installed a display about our activities at the “Bird Sanctuary” and birds living in the forest, as well as sound collectors and other structures that enable visitors to listen to the birds’ voices.
▼ Central House
The “Tasting Lounge” is a relaxing space where visitors can fully experience the charm of the “Hakushu Forest” while looking out over the forest through a wall of windows, and where they can taste rare whiskies, including the Hakushu brand, as well as “Suntory Single Malt Whisky”, “Suntory Single Malt Whisky”, and “Suntory Single Malt Whisky”. Visitors can enjoy tastings of rare whiskies, including the Hakushu brand, and food pairings with Suntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu. The Central House Gift Shop, which is located next to the distillery, offers a variety of goods unique to the Hakushu distillery and proposes an affluent lifestyle with Hakushu.
4. Contents of the Hakushu Distillery Tour and how to make a reservation
As before, there are two types of tours of the Hakushu Distillery.
Hakushu Distillery Manufacturing Tour
Duration: 90 minutes
Participation fee: 3,000 yen (tax included)
This tour allows you to see the manufacturing site where “Suntory Single Malt Whiskey Hakushu” is produced and experience with all five senses the aroma and temperature that can only be felt at that site. During the tasting, “Suntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu”, rare “Malt Whisky Original Sake” and “Hakushu Mori-scented High Ball” will be served. After the tour, visitors can take home an original Hakushu tasting glass.
Hakushu Distillery Manufacturing Tour Premium
Duration: 130 min.
Participation fee: 5,000 yen (tax included)
This tour allows visitors to see the manufacturing site where Suntory’s Hakushu single malt whiskey brand is produced, and to experience with all five senses the aromas and temperatures that can only be felt at that site. Through special tastings in the production area and storage facility, which are only available on the “Premium” tour, you will be guided to learn about the commitment of the distillers and the natural environment unique to the Hakushu Distillery. The tasting will include “Hakushu 12 Year Old” and rare “Malt Whiskey Original. After the tour, visitors can take home an original Hakushu tasting glass and glass holder.
Currently, the paid tours are conducted by lottery.
Reservations for December tours will be available from 9:30 a.m. on Monday, October 16.
Click here for reservation details.
The second half of the year 2023, which can be called the Suntory year, is approaching, and we are now at the very end of the year.
However, the Yamazaki distillery will reopen for tours on November 1 after the renovation work is completed, and the malt bars will be full of events until the end of the year.
This is the perfect time of the year to take a tour of Yamazaki and Hakushu, and to close out the millennium year of 2023.