NIKKA Whisky has not only won several international awards but is also one of the few remaining distilleries in the world that use traditional methods to make high quality whisky. It was the first distillery to open in Japan and is therefore an important landmark in the history of Japanese whisky making.
Founder Masataka Taketsu was the first Japanese to study the art of whisky making at the University of Glasgow back in 1918. Although whisky originated in Ireland, Scotland was and is still considered the cradle of whisky by many people. Masataka’s family owned a sake brewery that dates back to 1733, and he was originally set up to take over his family’s business. But his heart was set on the art of whisky making and he decided to dedicate his whole life to his passionof creating the best quality whisky for his home nation Japan.
In 1934 he established the first Nikka Whisky distillery in the town of Yoichi, Hokkaido, because he considered this location to be the most ideal site in Japan due its similarities in climate with his University town of Glasgow.
Nikka Whisky can be explored on a half-day trip from Hirafu Village – it’s only a 45-minute ride on the train from the Kutchan JR station in the direction of Otaru. Get off at the JR Yoichi station and it’s a 3-minute walk. They offer daily tours at the Yoichi distillery that includes a small tasting of its many award-winning single malts.