List of Japanese Whisky Distilleries (Updated in January 2021, 27 locations in total)

● Update (2021/1/28) Started operation in February 2021, added “Kuzumi distillery” in Oita Prefecture

Everyone knows that the first whisky distillery in Japan is Yamazaki Distillery, which started operations in 1924. Since then, many whisky distilleries have been built in Japan. In recent years, Japanese whisky has become a worldwide boom, and around 2016, many whisky distilleries were created through through through out in Japan. The newly founded distillery is called by various ways such as craft whisky, craft distillery, new generation distillery, etc., but regardless of size, we have listed whisky distilleries that are currently in operation. From Hokkaido to Okinawa, all 26 whisky distilleries are in operation through all over Japan, and one is planned to be built in the future!

1. Hokkaido Area

1-1. Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery

The distillery was started in 1936 by Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, who is known as the father of Japanese whisky, in search of his own whisky-making utopia.

Masataka Taketsuru believes that a cool and humid climate similar to Scotland, rich water sources and dignified and clear air are essential for making ideal whisky, so he chose Yoichi, located west of Otaru and at the base of the Shakotan Peninsula, from among various candidate sites.

A whisky distillery that can be said to be the origin of Nikka Whisky.

Location 〒046-0003 7-6 Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido
Access 2-3 minutes walk from JR Hokkaido Yoichi Station Approximately
30 minutes’ drive from Otaru City Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Sapporo City Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes’ drive from New Chitose Airport
Start of operation 1936
Official website Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery
Tour General tour available / Distillery guided tour must be
fully booked *The distillery tour, which was suspended from Friday, July 17, 2020, will be partially restricted.
Product Single Malt Yoichi

Click here for Nikka Whisky Whisky Review

1-2. Akkeshi Distillery

Akkeshi Distillery launched as a new business separately from its main business. With a strong desire to make whisky like Isla malt using traditional Scottish methods, the facilities were designed by Forsyth in Scotland.

Like isla whisky making, water through peat layers is used for water, and it is matured every day in “Akkeshi”, a place where cool, moist and sea breeze hits.

Location 〒088-1124 4-109-2 Miyazono, Akkeshi-cho, Akkeshi-gun, Hokkaido
Access Approximately 15 minutes by taxi from JR Akkeshi Station Approximately 50 minutes by Akan Bus from Kushiro Airport to JR Kushiro Station Approximately 50 minutes from JR Kushiro Station to JR Akkeshi Station on the JR Nemuro Main Line
Start of operation Distillation started in October 2016
Official website Akkeshi Distillery
Tour It is sponsored by “Akkeshi Taste Terminal Conkirie”. Click here for application and details *All tours this year have been canceled.
Product Akkeshi Single Malt Whisky Kanro, Akkeshi whisky SARORUNKAMUY, Akkeshi Newbourne 1-4

Click here for a thick shore distillery whisky review

1-3. Benizakura Distillery(Hokkaido Free whisky)

Benizakura Distillery is operated by Hokkaido Free Whisky in Sapporo
City, Hokkaido. It is now a hot topic distillery with craft gin, not whisky. Gin distilled using ingredients unique to Hokkaido has a unique taste and quickly became a hot topic.

The company name is “Hokkaido Free Whisky Co., Ltd.”, but at present there is no information on whisky making at Benizakura Distillery, so we are paying attention to future movements.

2. Tohoku Area

2-1. Nikka Whisky Miyagikyo Distillery

It has been about 30 years since Nikka Whisky founder Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky, started the first distillery in Yoichi, Hokkaido. Masataka Taketsuru, who believes that “by blending multiple original sakes born in different distilleries, whisky becomes more tasteful and rich”, began to move in search of a new distillery construction site.

Close to the prefectural border with Yamagata, this is a lush gorge blessed with two clear streams, the Hirose River and the Shinkawa River. When Taketsuru visited this place for the first time, he drank the black nikka he had in the clear stream of the Shinkawa River and checked the taste. It is said that they decided to build a distillery on the spot.

Image Source: Miyagikyo Distillery | NIKKA WHISKY
Image:Miyagikyo Distillery | NIKKA WHISKY
Location 〒989-3433 1 Nikka, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi

<電車> From JR Sendai Station to Jr Senzan Line Nami Station (1 train per hour): About 40 minutes
<無料シャトルバス> On Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, a shuttle bus from JR Nami Station to Miyagikyo Distillery runs (round trip) ※It takes about 7 minutes one way
<バス> From Sendai Station, get off at “Nikkabashi” for Machinami Onsen (municipal bus) ※Time required: About 60 minutes

Start of operation 1969
Official website Nikka Whisky MiyagiKyo Distillery
Tour General tour available / Distillery guided tour must be
fully booked *The distillery tour, which was suspended from Friday, July 17, 2020, will be partially restricted.
Product Single Malt Miyagikyo

Click here for Nikka Whisky Whisky Review

2-2. Yusa Distillery (Kinryu)

From Yamagata, we offer the highest quality Japanese whisky that the world admires.

Kinryu Co., Ltd., which operates yusa distillery, was founded in 1950 as a joint venture between nine sake makers in Yamagata Prefecture, producing neutral spirits called brewing alcohol and kosan shochu made with continuous steamers.

Kinryu is yamagata’s only manufacturer specializing in shochu, but when considering the decline in consumption of shochu and sake and the problems of the population of Yamagata Prefecture, the whisky business was a new business for the future.

At the Whisky Festival held in 2019, several new makeups from Yusa Distillery were unveiled.

Location 〒999-8302 20 Kakujida, Yoshide, Yuza-cho, Akumi-gun, Yamagata

Approximately 2 hours and 25 minutes by train from JR Niigata Station to JR Yusa Station Approximately 25 minutes’ walk from JR Yusa Station (5 minutes by car)

Start of operation 2018
Official website Kinryu Yusa Distillery Co., Ltd.
Tour General tours are not scheduled for the time being.

2-3. Asaka Distillery (Sasanokawa Sake Brewery)

Sasanokawa Sake Brewery, which operates the Asaka Distillery, is a long-established sake brewery founded in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture in 1765 and has been in production for about 250 years, and acquired a whisky production license in 1946 shortly after the war, and until around 1980, it stopped distilling raw sake due to the sluggish domestic market.

Following the resurgence of the whisky boom from the 2010s, in 2015 he decided to establish a full-fledged malt whisky distillery and purchased Miyake Seisakusho’s stills, which can be delivered within a year. The following year, in 2016, we resumed raw sake distillation at the Asaka Distillery, which introduced facilities to sake breweries.  In December 2019, Asaka Distillery, tohoku’s oldest craft whisky, launched its first single malt, “Azumi The First”.

Image source: Asaka Distillery Official Facebook

The products on display at the Whisky Festival 2019 were the Yamazakura series, which was made from barrels stored in the past, as well as new pots and new bones newly created at Asaka Distillery.

Location 〒963-0108 1-178 Sasanokawa, Koriyama City, Fukushima

Approximately 10 minutes’ drive from JR Koriyama Station Approximately 10 minutes’ walk from JR Azumi Eimori Station

Start of operation In 2016
Official website Sasakawa Sake Brewery
Asaka Distillery Official Twitter
Tour Reservation required
Product Asaka The First

3. Kanto Area

3-1. Yasato Distillery (Kiuchi Shuzo, Kumita Brewery)

Image source: Kiuchi Shuzo Official Website

Founded in 1823 in Naka, Ibaraki Prefecture, Kiuchi Shuzo manufactures sake and kikumori, as well as shochu, wine, liqueurs, and craft beer Hitachino Nest Beer.

In 2016, we started making whisky unique to Hitachino, taking advantage of the revived Japanese phantom beer barley “Kaneko Golden” while making Hitachino Nest beer. In April 2019, the company commercialized highballs in cans, starting with offering them at directly managed stores after aging.

In order to further pursue Japanese whisky making, we built the Yasato Distillery at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba and started operations in 2020.

Image source: Kiuchi Shuzo Official Website
Location 〒315-0151 1300-8 Sugama, Ishioka City, Ibaraki

Approxmately 35 minutes by taxi from Ishioka Station on the JR Joban Line
Approximately 20 minutes from Tsuchiura Kita IC on the Joban Expressway via the Fruit Line
Approximately 20 minutes from Chiyoda Ishioka IC on the Joban Expressway via the Fruit L
ine Approximately 20 minutes via the Fruit Line from Ishioka Komitama Smart IC on the Joban Expressway

Start of operation 2020 Yasato Distillery
(Nukada Brewery started distillation in 2016)
Official website Kiuchi Shuzo Yasato Distillery

3-2. Venture Whisky Chichibu Distillery

Chichibu Distillery, which started operations in 2008, has become a whisky manufacturer attracting attention around the world as “Ichiro’s Malt” in just a few years. Toa Shuzo, which was run by the father of the founder Ichiro Akuto, owned Hanyu Distillery and produced whisky. When Mr. Akuto took over in 2001, it was in poor management, and in 2003, it was transferred to “Hinode-Tsusho”. At that time, it was decided to withdraw from the whisky business, and the whisky that had been stored was threatened with being discarded. I worked hard to find a taker, succeeded in obtaining cooperation from Sasanokawa Sake Brewery, and was able to rent a storage and move the whisky stored at Hanyu Distillery. After that, he sold whisky using the original sake of Hanyu Distillery with Sasanokawa Sake Brewery. Mr. Akuto established Venture Whisky Co., Ltd. in 2004, and in 2007 he completed a whisky distillery in Chichibu because it was his hometown and an environment suitable for sake brewing.

Image source: Whisukipedia | BS Fuji

Whisky Festival 2019. I was able to sample some products from the products released so far. The booth always represented the popularity of Ichiro’s Malt in the procession.

Location 〒368-0067 49 Midorigaoka, Chichibu City, Saitama

Approximately 15 minutes by taxi from Minano Station on the Chichibu Railway
Approximately 20 minutes by taxi from Seibu Chichibu Station on the Seibu Line
From the Kanetsu Expressway Hanazono Interchange, go straight to Chichibu and the Allano-ying Toll Road. Pass through the toll office and go down at the second exit, go straight through the intersection Otsuka, turn right at the next intersection, check the guide sign for Midorigaoka Industrial Park, and proceed.

Start of operation In 2007
Official website Chichibu Distrillery Facebook Page
Tour For professionals only. We do not provide general tours.
Product Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve, Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries, Ichiro’s Malt & Grain… Etc

3-3. Venture Whisky Chichibu No.2 Distillery

In 2018, chichibu no. 2 distillery was operated about 400 meters away from Chichibu Distillery. At the second distillery, fermentors were changed from mizunara to French oak. In addition, pot stills have been changed from indirect heating with steam to open-flame heating with gas. Alcohol equivalent production is about five times that of 160 liters per day for the first distillery and 800 liters per day for the second distillery. Ichiro’s malt is currently difficult to obtain, but with the start of operation of the second distillery, production volume is expected to increase significantly in the future, and the circulation of products is expected to increase.

4. Chubu Area

4-1. Shinobu Distillery (Niigata Beer)

Niigata Beer Brewery, a craft brewery in Niigata, obtained its first whisky distillation license in Niigata City in 2016 with the aim of providing high-quality whisky to spirits lovers using local shimizu.

While the distillery is under construction, we import raw sake aged in sherry and bourbon barrels from distilleries around the world and mix it at the Niigata Plant (Niigata City) to make whisky “Koshino Shinobu”. Mizunara finish is characterized by a rich aroma that has been additionally aged in domestic mizunara barrels. 90% of the production is for export, of which 40% is from the United States. Pay attention to
future trends, including the construction of distilleries.