Whisky enthusiasts swinging through Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture may want to consider a visit to Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery, where the Japanese beverage giant makes FUJI Whisky.
Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery is set at the foot of Japan’s iconic and mystical Mount Fuji, located in Shizuoka Prefecture near the confluence where it meets the prefectures of Kanagawa and Yamanashi. Unlike Nikka’s far more picturesque Scottish-style Yoichi distillery on Hokkaido, Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery is more akin to Suntory’s stark and utilitarian Hakushu Distillery in Yamanashi.
And just as remote.
Yet Japanese beverage conglomerate Kirin chose the site for reasons directly related to the making of whisky than having Mount Fuji, visible from the distillery on a good day, as merely an impressively beautiful backdrop. Two of those most important reasons? It taps groundwater that originates as snowmelt from Mount Fuji, filtered naturally by the mountain’s countless lava layers into pristine purity, a critical component for making whisky. Then there’s the cool temperate climate, with low minimal temperature diurnal swing perfect for whisky’s slow maturation as it ages in oak barrels to extract maximum flavour.
Despite the relative inaccessibility, Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery is worth a visit especially for whisky enthusiasts. The distillery offers a “factory tour” that allows visitors to understand how makes many different styles of whiskies in a single location using a combination of rotund pot stills, towering column stills, and bourbon-style doublers – which is rather unique in the world of whisk(e)y production.
Unfortunately the distillery’s five barrel-ageing warehouses are off-site, so you aren’t able to see – and smell – the whisky quietly aging away.
But there’s its tasting room. Here you can, for a price, taste its extensive range of whiskies that run from its core range bottles such as the Kirin Single Grain Whiskey FUJI and Kirin Single Blended Japanese Whisky, to more illustrious expressions like the Fuji 50th Anniversary Edition Single Malt Japanese Whisky.
Reservations are a must for factory tours, while the tasting room is open to the public anytime during operating hours.
Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery
Address 970 Shibanta, Gotemba, Shizuoka 412-0003, Japan (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 9.30am to 4pm Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays
Tel (81) 550-89-4909
Reservations book here