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Buying Japanese Whiskies (To Take Home) + Visiting Distilleries

Kavey Aug 3, 2012 02:39 PM

One more new thread from me today, again I've not had any luck finding anything using the Search, going back 5 years, on both whisky and whiskey spellings!

I've found some great recommendations for whisky bars in Tokyo, where we can go to enjoy a few drinks, both Japanese and world wide whiskies.

Does anyone have any recommendations for best stores to visit for a good selection of Japanese whiskies to buy and bring home? Preferably keenly priced too, of course!

We'll be visiting Tokyo and Kyoto for a few nights each, which I assume are our best shopping options.

We'll also be stopping in Osaka (briefly) and Takayama (which I think is best for sake not whisky).

On another note, I did some Googling and I realise that none of the whisky distilleries fall into our itinerary, I think, but I have a feeling I read somewhere that there may be a Tokyo head office for one of them that accepts visitors for tours/ tastings. But I can't find this again for the life of me and starting to think I imagined it. Any ideas?

Thank you once again for any help and ideas,

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  1. Robb S Aug 3, 2012 08:55 PM

    There's a shop called Liquors Hasegawa located in one of the underground malls east of Tokyo station that seems to sell a lot of different kinds of both whisky and whiskey. (www.liquors-hasegawa.com ) They even have tastings - you can try many brands for around Y100-200 for 10ml.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robb S
      Kavey Aug 4, 2012 01:11 AM

      Oh that's perfect, thank you! Will add that one to our list.

      If anyone knows of any others, am open to more.

      Thanks again!

    2. h
      Hiyodori Aug 5, 2012 07:07 PM

      If you're going to be in Kyoto, you can get a factory tour and tastings at Suntory's Yamazaki Distillery, located only 14 minutes away from Kyoto Station on the JR Tokaido line. Japanese website:

      There are a variety of different types of tours, and they may fill up ahead of time.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Hiyodori
        Kavey Aug 6, 2012 08:11 AM

        How did I miss this, this is perfect! Thank you!

        1. re: Hiyodori
          davew666 Aug 6, 2012 01:32 PM

          This is quite good - there's an English audio guide for the tour too as they do it in Japanese only.

          1. re: davew666
            Kavey Aug 6, 2012 01:48 PM

            Thanks Dave, we'll be sure to ask / get that.

            1. re: Kavey
              Uncle Yabai Aug 7, 2012 12:57 AM

              Don't forget to get some Suntory Hibiki 17. For relaxing times, its Suntory time!


              Seriously, that's some good stuff.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai
                Kavey Aug 7, 2012 01:42 AM

                Ha haaaaaaa! I've never seen the film, should I?
                I'm not a huge Bill Murray fan, though I cut him some slack because, you know, Ghostbusters! but maybe the film would be fun to see before our trip?

                1. re: Kavey
                  Uncle Yabai Aug 7, 2012 03:54 AM

                  You definitely should. I thought it was a small masterpiece.

        2. a
          andrew_eats Aug 7, 2012 03:34 AM

          I watched a documentary once about Suntory Yamazaki Distillery. The man who tastes the whisky for consistency has been doing it for many, many years. He eats the same udon dish every single day, so that his tastebuds remain exactly the same. That's true devotion to craft. I would go crazy if I couldn't eat what I want.

          1. Kavey Aug 21, 2012 02:43 AM

            I've bookmarked Nikko's website, under my Tokyo folder, and I have a thought in my head that one can visit the Tokyo head office and maybe do tastings but I'm not sure where I got that idea from anymore.
            Am I imagining things?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Kavey
              killersmile Aug 21, 2012 12:24 PM

              No you aren't imagining things. Supposedly in the basement of their building in Minami-Aoyama, there is the Nikka Blender's Bar where you can try their whiskey. Here's some info that might be useful to you:
              http://nonjatta.blogspot.com/2008/02/... (listing of bars & shops info, also plotted on google maps)

              1. re: killersmile
                Kavey Aug 21, 2012 04:23 PM

                Thank you! Was also hunting on Japanguide and finally found a thread where this bar was mentioned, perhaps may be when I bookmarked the Nikka website!
                Will check your link too, thank you so much.

                1. re: killersmile
                  Kavey Aug 22, 2012 01:02 AM

                  The Nonjatta links are fantastic, thank you again!

                  1. re: Kavey
                    killersmile Aug 22, 2012 12:48 PM

                    No problem. That blog is a treasure trove of info for japanese whiskey. Also, look here http://whiskiesrus.blogspot.com/ for info on bars/shops in Kansai (Osaka/Kyoto area).

                    1. re: killersmile
                      Kavey Aug 22, 2012 02:47 PM

                      Also great, thank you.

              2. Tripeler Aug 24, 2012 12:26 AM

                I have been to the Nikka factory in Yoichi, Hokkaido many years ago, on two occasions.
                I know a visit would not have been possible with your schedule, but if you ever have the chance to visit there in the future, I would highly recommend it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tripeler
                  Kavey Aug 24, 2012 12:36 AM

                  Thanks Tripeler! When planning the itinerary, I really considered including a visit to one of the whisky distilleries but realised it didn't make sense in light of what we'd have to give up elsewhere to do so. But yes, am sure this won't be our only visit so another time. Thanks for the recommendation! :-)

                2. p
                  Papadum Oct 16, 2012 07:53 PM

                  Kavey: Yamazaki Distillery is in fact in between Osaka and Kyoto, only 30 minutes JR train ride from either direction. They have a lot of varieties in their shop which are not available in the general market, but their price are MRSP with no discount. Small liquor shops on the street have big discount...but then you to find them...I've been to one in downtown area (Sancho), a very small shop but with great price! anyhow you have to call Yamazaki ahead for booking the tour, look for info at their official site.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Papadum
                    Kavey Oct 17, 2012 12:43 AM

                    We visited a couple of days ago, was really lovely and Pete loved the whisky bar where you can order tastings of many drams including the ones used in blends, not usually sold.
                    Did buy some whisky in the shop but have noted your advice on price so may look in shops for more. One we bought was available in their shop only so they said anyway! :-)

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