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Travelogue: Exploring Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery

Japan Press Trip Part 13

Founded in 1934, the distillery at Yoichi is one of Nikka Whisky's 2 whisky distilleries. The distillery is a 2 hour train ride from the Northern Japanese city of Sapporo. Is it worth the trip?

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Bust of Masataka Taketsuru, founder of Nikka Whisky. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

Sapporo is the largest city in Northern Japan and the country's 5th most populous city. Located on Hokkaido, it is an important centre of winter sport, hosting the Winter Olympics in 1972.

We are flown by Jetstar Japan from Osaka to Sapporo, but no activities are planned for us.

Left to our own devices, we decide to visit one of Nikka Whisky's 2 whisky distilleries, which is located high in the hills about 2 hours from Sapporo - if things go  well.

But will they???

Our original plan is to go by train, stopping along the way in the picturesque town of Otaru, but the weatherman doesn't cooperate. He unleashes a flurry of snow, which obstructs the railway tracks. We have no choice but to travel by bus instead.

And we're not the only ones. When we get to the bus station, the line is long. Eventually we board a bus, which meanders slowly through the city. By the time we reach the city limits, we would probably have been in Otaru if we could have gone by train.

It's getting late, and we are getting hungry. So instead of disembarking in Otaru, we remain on the bus and continue on to Yoichi, where a Winter Wonderland awaits.

As we make our ways from the bus stop to the distillery, we can hear the lilting melody of bagpipes being broadcast over loud speakers suspended from street lamps.

Is this in tribute to Masataka Taketsuru, Founder of Nikka Whisky, who learned his craft while studying in Scotland as a young man?

Across the street we can see a stone structure that looks a bit like a small castle.

We enter and explore the grounds on our own as no English speaking tour guides are available. Apparently you have to make arrangements in advance.

Photo Opps

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 Metro station in downtown Sapporo - first stop on a journey to Yoichi, where Nikka Whisky has a distillery. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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We arrive 2 hours later by bus. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Entrance to the Nikka Distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Hong Kong travel writers horsing around in the snow. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Michael Taylor at the entrance to the former residence of the distillery's founder and his wife. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Distillery workshops at the Nikka Whisky Distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Adding coals to the fire at the Nikka Distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan.. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Whisky fermenting in barrels at the Nikka Distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Sign pointing the way to the Whisky Museum. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Display inside the Whisky Museum. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Re-creation of the sitting room of Masataka Taketsuru and his wife, Rita, in inside the Whisky Museum. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Entrance to the whisky tasting room and restaurant. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Whisky tasting room. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Angus Li taking pictures at the whisky tasting room. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Michael Taylor savouring whisky as he compemplates the snowy landscape. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Michael Taylor gets ready to tuck into a mouth-watering lunch. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Set lunch of lamb shabu shabu with 2 kinds of broth: whisky and apple wine. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

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Michael Taylor waiting for the bus to go back to Sapporo. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

 

The trip by bus to Yoichi is enjoyable in itself.  And exploring the distillery is both informative and fun.

I enjoy sampling the whisky in the tasting room, and - unlike to what the website says - you are NOT limited to just one glass of each type.

I am especially impressed by the Apple Wine. I end up buying 2 bottles in the gift shop, which puts considerable stress on my luggage when it is time to fly home.

The lunch, meanwhile, is absolutely delicious! I order the lamb shabu shabu, which comes with 2 kinds of broth: whisky and wine.

It is the BEST shabu shabu I have ever had, and it is surprisingly inexpensive - thanks to the devalued yen!

If I can find the recipe, that would make an EXCELLENT post for Foodie Friday!

Where

 Nikka Whisky, 7 Chome-6 Kurokawacho, Yoichi, Hokkaido,Japan. Telephone: +81 135 23 3131. Distillery Website: Nikka Whisky

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