Nestled in the Southern Japanese Alps, Hakushu is one of the loftiest malt whisky distilleries in the world. It is owned by Suntory, one of the big two Japanese Single Malt distillers.
The distillery takes its water from beneath Kai-Komagatake ("Pony Mountain"), the impressive granite peak on whose forested coat tails it sits. I think the name Hakushu means "white sand bar" and refers to white sand washed down from the mountain.
And in computer text, in case you want to search for Hakushu on the Japanese internet: 白州 (Hakushu) ウィスキー (whisky). (Can`t see it?)
Hakushu, with its trademark walkway linked twin roofs, is a very large site and actually contains two separate distilleries. The original distillery was opened in 1973 but its 24 stills have now gone silent. The single malts come from the second, known as Hakushu Higashi (Hakushu East), which came on line in 1981.
The water used by Hakushu is soft as opposed to the relatively hard water used by Suntory's other single malt distillery at Yamazaki. This is because of the granite mountainside. Rainwater is naturally soft but can pick up minerals as it runs through certain types of ground. The rainwater at Hakushu falls on hard rock and therefore retains its softness.
The distillery has a museum, restaurant, nature walks and a factory shop where they sell all kinds of gumph: not just whisky but whisky cake chocolates, pen cases, barrels for your garden etc. etc. etc..
Single malts from Hakushu
See the side bar.
LocationView location on map of Japan's single malt distilleries. (If you download Google Earth and click on the "KML" button above this map you can see the topography in 3D!)
The distillery is open to the public between 10am and 4.30pm (in the Golden week holidays in April to early May this is extended to 6pm in some years). There are guided tours of the plant every half hour between 10 am and 3pm. They take about an hour and include a tasting at the end.
Print out this coupon and take it along. I think it might give you a discount or something.
Ten minutes by taxi from JR Kobuchizawa station.
Tel: 0551 35 2211
Address in Japanese:
Website in Japanese
Directions in JapaneseAll Suntory locations in English