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