• Visit a renowned Japanese whisky distillery
• Learn the history and craft of making whisky
• Taste rare bottlings of one of Japan’s most coveted spirits
Japanese whisky is the darling of spirit connoisseurs the world over—and its current cachet seems unlikely to subside anytime soon. (Raging demand and dwindling supply has made even entry-level bottles tough to find overseas.) Much of the fascination revolves around the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, one of the country’s top producers—which, conveniently for you, is just 30 minutes by train from central Osaka, en route to Kyoto. A visit to the distillery begins with a guided tour; they’re conducted only in Japanese, but audio guides in English, French, and Chinese are available. Here you’ll learn the history of the distillery, founded by Shinjiro Torii in 1923, and the secrets to crafting world-class whiskys (hint: it’s in the water). After an overview of the distillation process, from fermentation to the oak barrels of the whisky-aging warehouse, it’s time for a tasting. Three samples are included in the tour, but we recommend continuing your visit at the distillery’s excellent whisky museum, which contains an extensive whisky “library,” where you’ll find shelves of backlit bottles and a tasting counter. More samples and small glasses are available here for purchase. Peruse the long list of rare vintages and award-winning blends, like the 21-year Hibiki, crafted on-site, and savor the relaxing atmosphere, overlooking a manicured garden.
Reservations for the distillery tour and museum must be made in advance, either through the Conrad’s concierge or online via Suntory’s reservation form. From the Conrad, walk north to Osaka Station and take the JR Line to Yamazaki Station (about 25 minutes). Alternatively, a taxi from the hotel to the distillery will take about 50 minutes each way, depending on traffic.