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  • Writer's picturelifeofandra

Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

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yamazaki whisky library suntory

Established in 1923, The Yamazaki Distillery is Japan's oldest whisky distillery. It is located in the southwest of Kyoto, at the foot of Mt. Tennozan, in an area famous for its high-quality natural water.

So far I have enjoyed all the Japanese whiskies I have tried, so, naturally, in my month-long trip around Japan, I was going to try my best to see the place with my own eyes.

If you want to visit Suntory Yamazaki Distillery there are two options: a paid guided distillery and whisky-tasting tour, or the free, unguided museum tour, at the end of which you can find a paid tasting counter.

Both options require a reservation and, as far as I know, the paid option grants you access to the museum after you have finished the guided tour.

I initially wanted to take part in the distillery tour but booking one turned out to be simply impossible (in my case at least). As soon as the tickets were made available (about a month in advance at a certain hour) I went to Suntory's website and tried to book. I was number 2000-something in the queue. After waiting for about half an hour I luckily managed to book a spot for the Whisky Museum.

All the distillery slots were long gone - I wish I could advise you on how to successfully book one (if you know a way, I am very much willing to listen, please let me know in the comments).

Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum is open daily from 10:00 until 16:45, with the last entry being at 16:30. On their website you have a wonderful option of a 360 tour of the same museum, which does offer quite a lot of information, but, unfortunately, it cannot compensate for the whisky tasting at the end.

How to get there?

From Kyoto Station, I took the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Yamazaki Station, a 15-minute journey which was 230 Yen one way. From Yamazaki Station, there is a 10-minute walk to the Distillery.

Make sure you have at least a couple of hours to visit, as there is a good amount of information to go through, and you might want to take your time enjoying the whisky sampling.

inside Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum

Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum

There are two floors. As you enter, you have some information about Shinjiro Torii - the founder of Suntory, the Yamazaki Distillery and its history and the Suntory Shirofuda - the first Japanese Whisky made in 1929.

Shirofuda - first Japanese Whisky

On the same floor, you can find the Whisky Library, a Pot Still and the Tasting Counter. I do recommend you leave the latter towards the end of your visit. The Whisky Library has thousands of component whiskies and final whiskies and it looks absolutely phenomenal. It was a very popular photo spot and I fully understand why.

whisky library at Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum

If you're like me, you can easily spend a significant amount of time simply marvelling at the varieties on display, either in the Library or inside the Pot Still - where you can find an assortment of international whiskies.

The Second Floor offers information about how Yamazaki Whisky is made, what materials are used, how they are prepared, how distillation works and how the whisky is stored and matured. You can also find abundant information about the label and bottle design, awards won throughout the years and specifically how the Hibiki and the Yamazaki Single malt were created.

The Gift Shop is also located on this floor and it offers a small selection of whisky, souvenirs and snacks. When I visited, in April 2023, the gift shop looked great and had some interesting options, but compared with the Scottish Distilleries I'm used to, it had very few whiskies to choose from. This is probably my only complaint about this whole experience.

Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum

After seeing all that Suntory Yamazaki Museum had to offer, it was time to pay a visit to the Tasting Counter. The 3 types of whisky I tried were The Yamazaki Limited Edition, Hibiki Blossom Harmony and Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Single Malt. The review for all 3 will follow shortly.

3 types of japanese whisky at the tasting counter Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum

Visiting the Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum was an amazing experience. I highly recommend it whether you love whisky, want to learn more about its history in Japan, or are simply curious.

2023 marks Suntory Yamazaki's 100-year anniversary.

By now, you probably have seen some of the advertising for the short film directed by Sofia Coppola, starring Keanu Reeves, a film which pays tribute to this amazing brand. This, as well I recommend you see - a nearly 2-minute video/short film which honestly makes you want to get the first flight to Japan and immerse yourself in all its amazing culture while sipping on a glass of Hibiki.

Note: Both Distillery and Museum are closed for refurbishment until November 1st 2023. Their booking system might change as well, so it might hopefully be easier to book.

Have you ever been to Suntory Yamazaki Whisky Museum? Let me know of your experience, in the comments below.

I hope life is treating you well.

Take care.

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