Japanese Proud Whisky Maker: The Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery In Hokkaido

Yoichi is one of the most known whiskys from Nikka Whisky. This rich flavoured whisky is distilled in Yoichi, Hokkaido. This article documents a recent visit to Yoichi Distillery. Get to know a bit of its history and so on before you enter the distillery!

Nikka Whisky is one of two major Japanese whisky companies. It was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, who distilled the first Japanese whisky in 1934. Nikka Whisky has led the Japanese whisky scene ever since. If you are interested in the history of Japanese whisky, please see this article.

Whisky by Nikka is called “Taketsuru,” which is named after the founder and “Yoichi,” which is named after the place where the distillery is located. They have a great reputation not only in Japan, but abroad as well. Especially since Taketsuru won the World Whiskies Awards (WWA) 7 times as luxury pure malt whisky.

Take Trip To Yoichi Distillery!

Yoichi is located on the east end of Hokkaido, which is about an hour train ride from Sapporo Station or 30 minutes from Otaru Station. I bet you’ll want to taste some whisky there, so I strongly recommend taking a train, not driving there. Japan is VERY strict when it comes to DUIs.

You think tasting some good whisky is outside your budget? No worries! They offer free samples here!

Mr. Taketsuru studied whisky distilling techniques in Scotland for a long time and found the climate in Yoichi was close to Scotland after returning back to Japan.

It is a very refreshing atomosphere!

The distillery is very large and includes a museum, a still house, a sampling space, a gift shop, etc.

Learn The History Of Whisky And How To Distill It

These panels explain the history of how whisky spread to the world.

And tools for distilling and explanations how.

In the museum, there is a sampling booth available (unfortunately sampling in this museum is not free).

They offer rare aged Taketsuru/Yoichi. It must be worth money!

Life Of Masataka Taketsuru And His Wife Rita

Mr. Taketsuru studied in Scotland and met his soulmate Roberta "Rita." You see their life together through his diaries and their belongings.

Nippon Hoso Kyokai aka NHK (Japanese State Channel) broadcast a TV show about their story in 2014 that skyrocketed in popularity. How difficult it must have been for Rita to leave Scotland, her family, and her friends, and marry him and live in Japan. Rita's bravery to jump into Japanese society at that time, the strong support she received, and Mr. Taketsuru's passion for making whisky moved people.

Here you see the first whisky Mr. Taketsuru distilled.

Only One Distillery In The World

With coal-fired distillation, it’s hard to keep and manage temperature, but Nikka Whisky strictly keeps the original method Mr. Taketsuru learned in Scotland. Yoichi Distillery is the only distillery using modern methods. This effort makes their whisky very flavorful and gives it a strong taste.

Pot stills are lined up.

Sampling Whisky!

Whisky is waiting for you in the sampling area!

You can taste some whiskies for free here (2 kinds per person per glass).

Their choices of seasonal recommendations are available.

There is a gift shop available for souvenirs!

Yoichi Distillery won the best factory tour on TripAdvisor in 2014, which tells you this is worth the visit...isn't it?

Enjoy good whisky and learn about the guy who dreamed big to make great Japanese whisky and made it true after countless failure and hardships here in Yoichi Distillery!

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Written by Ayaka

Born and raised in Hakodate. I drive around Sapporo often too. I love fashion, sweets, and beautiful scenery. I work at a hotel in Hakodate.

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