Japanese whisky nurtured by spring water and Mother Nature

”Distillery in the Forest” utilizing nature

Distillery located in high-altitude area, a rarity in the world.
Suntory Hakushu Distillery at the high altitude of 700 m (about 2296 ft.). It is a distillery located within nature known as the “Distillery in the Forest”.

Whisky is a liquor that has a complex flavor and scent, which is deeply related to the natural environment where the whisky is made.

Maturing the malt whisky in barrels for a long time

The Hakushu Distillery of Suntory, one of the leading Japanese distillers, is located in Hakushu, Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture. The Yamanashi Prefecture, bordering Tokyo, can be accessed in over one hour from Shinjuku by express train. It is surrounded by mountains over the altitude of 2000 m (about 6560 ft.), including Mt. Fuji to the south, Southern Alps to the west, Mt. Yatsugatake to the north, and Mt. Okuchichibu Mountains to the east. It is well known as the home to rich spring water. Especially, the town of Hakushu in Hokuto City, about two hours from Shinjuku by express train of JR Chuo Main Line, is a treasure trove of good-quality water which contains just the right mix of minerals. The water in Hakushu combined with malt makes it the best water to be used as a base for whisky, when mixed it produces a sweet wort by converting the starch in the malt into sugar.

“Good-quality water is essential, but the natural environment is also important for maturing the malt whisky in barrels for a long time. The clear air of the highland and the temperature variations of the four seasons nurture the deep flavor. Manufacturing by utilizing the natural resources in the area is our starting point.” (Takeshi Ono, Factory Manager of Hakushu Distillery)

Aiming at the coexistence with nature.
There is a bird sanctuary inside the factory of the Hakushu Distillery, where about 50 species of wild birds come flying annually.
Distilled twice in pot stills.
Distillation stills called pot stills.

We utilize the natural resources alongside our passion and desire to master the manufacturing of whisky which will live up to the expectations of our customers who drink it. For example, here at Suntory Hakushu Distillery, we aimed to replace some of our distillation stills in 1981, eight years after its opening. The reason why we did this is to create malt whiskies of various flavors through selective use of distillation stills with various shapes and sizes. The characteristics of Japanese whisky represent the spirit, perfectionism and an eye for detail of a craftsman that honors tradition but also is open to a challenge of change. The delicate flavor is created from these efforts, letting the customers enjoy the whiskey their own way.

The barrels of unblended malt whisky and the Factory Manager
The barrels used to mature the malt whisky are made first by selecting the wood to be used as the material.

We use only the clear sweet wort in order to avoid impure flavor. Hakushu Distillery maintains the perfectionism in every process, including the sufficient time taken for the fermentation process to maintain the best fermentation condition for the yeast and lactic acid. They also pursue the best combination from hundreds of malt whiskies. You can visit the Suntory Hakushu Distillery to see the natural environment nurturing the whisky and every process of manufacturing as well as tasting the malt whiskies of Hakushu, a single malt whisky. (There is an admission fee. Reservation is required.) There will be a multilingual audio guide available in English, Chinese and French. This will be a perfect opportunity to experience, feel and see the beautiful nature of Yamanashi and the manufacturing scenes of Japan

Tasting is available in the factory tour
The tasting completes the factory tour. You can compare the various malt whiskies of “Hakushu” and taste the delicious highball with a hint of mint.

Suntory Hakushu Distillery

A free shuttle bus is available from the closest train station, JR Chuo Main Line Kobuchizawa Station. (The operation hours in 2016 are as follows: between March 19, 2016, and December 25, 2016; every day between July 16, 2016, and August 31, 2016; on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays between September 1, 2016, and December 25, 2016.)

Reliable specialty store that allows customers to come in contact with the local liquor culture

There are eight distillers nationwide in Japan, including the leading two manufacturers of Suntory and Nikka, and each of them manufactures unique whiskies. When you want to try Japanese whisky, to find a whisky that matches your taste, or to learn the delicious way of drinking, AEON LIQUOR is the reliable specialty store for you.

AEON LIQUOR has deployed 380 stores nationwide mainly in AEON MALL or shopping malls, and AEON STYLE stores or AEON general merchandise stores. The characteristics of the stores boast a substantial merchandise mix of liquors produced in their regions while allowing the customers to come in contact with the local liquor culture such as “various micro-brewed beers” and “plentiful citrus alcoholic drinks.”

The store staff says, “I would like to express the passion of the manufacturers.”

Many staff in AEON LIQUOR are well versed in the tasty local alcoholic beverages and even thoroughly know their manufacturing process and the thoughts of manufacturers. Daisuke Aoki, a certified Sommelier of AEON Koufushowa store, located in the central region of Yamanashi Prefecture, says, “A good-tasting alcoholic beverage keeps its quality supported by manufacturers’ vision. I’m happy if you also know their visions as well.”

“One of the charms of Japanese whiskies, including Hakushu, is that it can be enjoyed during a meal and it goes well with Japanese cuisine. Please try it when you visit Japan,  enjoying whisky and water or highball while eaing the local, seasonal food is part of Japanese food culture.

Recommended liquor corner, which is convenient for selecting souvenirs
Corner with the collection of recommended liquors mainly made in the region. It is also convenient for buying souvenirs. Please check the tax-free procedure for the liquors purchased in AEON LIQUOR at the tax-free counter of AEON Koufushowa store.
Liquor corners of the season’s specialty
Liquors that match the seasons and season’s specialty liquors are popular among customers. Many stores have tasting events regularly.

AEON MALL Koufushowa

Address: 1-Gaiku, Joei-Tochi-Kukaku Seirichinai, Showa-cho, Nakakoma-gun, Yamanashi

Store hours:10 am to 10 pm(AEON MALL)
8 am to 11 pm(AEON Koufushowa Store)
*Some stores have different opening hours.

Non-business days: Open 365 days a year

Access: 30 minutes by bus from JR Kofu Station (There is a shuttle bus)

Koshu wine that adds a touch of color to the G7 Summit

Koshu produced in Yamanashi
“Koshu,” the wine grape variety born in Yamanashi and recognized in the world

Yamanashi Prefecture is the birthplace of Japanese wines. It is well known as one of the biggest wine-producing regions that utilizes the climate similar to Bourgogne, the windy and renowned wine-producing district in France. Koshu Wine produced from “Koshu (the former name of Yamanashi Prefecture) grape” is recognized as a brand in the world and was served at the formal dinner party at the G7 2016 Ise-Shima Summit.

Staff knowledgeable about wines
Ms. Chie Amano, who has the certification of Wine Expert, frequently visits vineyards across the Yamanashi Prefecture.

“The white Koshu wine is fruity, easy to drink, and highly recommendable. The Yamanashi wines are best-selling in the Yamanashi prefecture. From this fact, we can say that local people are proud of the local wines.

AEON LIQUOR is the guide of liquors and foods

Wine tasting corner
Wine tasting corner

AEON LIQUOR provides various services and makes efforts so that the customers can enjoy good-tasting alcoholic beverages. For example, AEON STYLE Itabashimaeno-cho Store has a wide variety of Japanese sake and recommended wines from across Japan, and provides a tasting corner where customers can casually try drinks. It is very popular among the customers.

AEON LIQUOR Jiyugaoka Store

AEON LIQUOR Jiyugaoka in Tokyo, a street-level store, provides unique service allowing customers to bring in wines purchased at the store to eat and drink in the affiliate restaurants in the vicinity. There are certified sommeliers who can provide consulting in selecting wines as well as cheese sommeliers who know which cheese goes well with the wines at AEON LIQUOR. Furthermore, we carry a wide variety of snacks from basic items to seasonal products that match the alcoholic beverages so that you can enjoy the tasteful combination of foods and drinks.

Japanese whiskies and Japanese sake are based on the climate and cultures of Japan. You can enjoy Japanese whisky that goes very well with Japanese food and select souvenir drinks at AEON LIQUOR to add to the tasteful memories of your trip to Japan!