Kurayoshi Distillery

  • Japan

Kurayoshi Distillery exterior with snow.

Name: Kurayoshi Distillery
Address: 656-1 Kamifurukawa, Kurayoshi, Tottori 682-0934, Japan
Phone: +81858270381
Website: http://matsui-shuzo.co.jp/

History of Kurayoshi Distillery

The history of Kurayoshi Distillery is intertwined with the operations of Matsui Shuzo, a company established in 1910, primarily known for producing sake and shochu. The journey of Kurayoshi Distillery can be categorised into distinct phases, reflecting its evolution in the whisky industry.

The Roots in Matsui Shuzo

  • Establishment of Matsui Shuzo (1910): The parent company, Matsui Shuzo, was founded over a century ago. Initially, it was dedicated to producing traditional Japanese alcoholic beverages like sake and shochu.

Transition to Whisky Production

  • Entry into Whisky Market: In a significant shift, Matsui Shuzo ventured into the whisky market. The company was known for importing spirits from Scottish distilleries, which were then aged in Japan and bottled as ‘Japanese whisky’. This practice was somewhat controversial due to the implications of the ‘Japanese whisky’ label.

Establishment of Kurayoshi Distillery

  • Acquiring Distillation License (2015): Matsui Shuzo obtained its first license to distill whisky in 2015, marking a pivotal step in its transition to whisky production.
  • Beginning of Distillation at Kurayoshi (2017): The actual distillation at Kurayoshi Distillery began in 2017 with the installation of three pot stills. This move indicated the company’s commitment to producing its own whisky.
  • Expansion and Technological Advancements: Following the initial setup, the distillery expanded its facility, adding larger pot stills to enhance production capacity.

Unique Features and Production Methods

  • Location and Natural Resources: Located at the foot of Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture, Kurayoshi Distillery benefits from the region’s crystal-clear water. The water, along with the unique climate conditions, plays a vital role in the whisky’s aging process and flavour profile.
  • Aging in Rare Barrels: The distillery has been experimenting with aging whisky in rare Mizunara (Japanese oak) and Sakura (cherry wood) barrels, adding unique characteristics to the final product.

Current Status and Future Prospects

  • Ongoing Developments: Kurayoshi Distillery, under Matsui Shuzo, continues to evolve its whisky production processes. There is an anticipation of an all-Kurayoshi whisky, showcasing local barley and other regional ingredients.
  • Public Tours and Brand Growth: Plans for opening the distillery for public tours indicate a move towards greater transparency and engagement with whisky enthusiasts.

Awards Won by Kurayoshi Distillery

  • International Spirits Challenge (ISC): Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards for various products, including “The San-in” and “The Kurayoshi Sherry Cask”.
  • San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC): Double Gold, Gold, and Silver awards for whiskies such as “The Kurayoshi 18 Years” and “The Matsui Mizunara Cask”.
  • International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC): Gold and Silver awards for products including “The Kurayoshi 18 Years”.

Kurayoshi Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Introduction to Kurayoshi Distillery

  • Location and History: The tour begins with an introduction to the distillery, highlighting its location in Tottori Prefecture, near the scenic Mt. Daisen.

The Whisky-Making Process

  • Use of Natural Resources: The tour showcases how the distillery uses fresh underground water from Mt. Daisen in its whisky production.

Aging and Barrels

  • Unique Aging Process: Visitors learn about the aging process, particularly the use of rare cherry wood barrels, which impart unique flavors to the whisky.

Tasting Experience

  • Sensory Delight: The tour culminates in a tasting session where visitors can enjoy the malt scent, bitter flavor, and the delicate fragrance of cherry blossoms present in the whisky.

Flask & Barrel Review of Kurayoshi Distillery

I recently visited the Kurayoshi Distillery, and as a seasoned whiskey collector, I’d confidently give it a 4.7 out of 5. The tour experience was genuinely impressive.

Nestled in the serene surroundings of Tottori, the distillery’s use of pure underground water from Mt. Daisen and unique cherry wood barrels for aging truly sets their whiskey apart. The distinct malt scent and slightly bitter yet rich flavor profile of their whiskey, complemented by subtle cherry blossom notes, were a delight.

While I’ve seen many distilleries, the tranquil ambiance of Kurayoshi, coupled with their distinctive aging process, made the visit memorable. Their commitment to crafting exceptional whiskey is evident, making it a must-visit for any whiskey enthusiast.

What To Do Nearby Kurayoshi Distillery

  • Traditional Architecture: Discover the town’s charming wooden buildings with red-tiled roofs, dating back to the Edo and Meiji periods.
  • White-Walled Kura Warehouses: These iconic structures, now repurposed as cafes, shops, and workshops, add a distinctive historical touch to the town.
  • Kasuri Fabric Workshop: Engage in the local arts by visiting a workshop dedicated to Kasuri, a traditional Japanese fabric.
  • Local Cuisine: Savor regional flavors at Seisuian restaurant, known for specialties like mochi shabu.
  • Bamboo Lantern-Making Workshop: Participate in this unique activity set in a park with beautiful Chinese aesthetics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Kurayoshi Distillery?

Akiyama: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +81858246032. Their address is 3030-2 Yodoyacho, Kurayoshi, Japan.

LOOSE: You can contact them for reservations. It is located at Dakyojicho, 198-2 Kurayoshi Park Square Shokusaikan, Kurayoshi, Japan.

KanohYa: KanohYa has a 4.1-star rating on Google Maps. For booking a table, you can contact at +81858228361. The address is 3 Chome-16 Sakaemachi, Kurayoshi, Japan.

What hotels are near Kurayoshi Distillery?

Bayside Square Kaike Hotel: It has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +81859350001. The address is 4 Chome-21-1 Kaikeonsen, Yonago, Tottori 683-0001, Japan.

Fairfield by Marriott Okayama Hiruzen Highland: It has a 4.5 star rating on Google Maps. For booking a room, you can contact them at +81867667550. Their address is Hiruzen Kamitokuyama, 1385-9, Maniwa, Okayama 717-0612, Japan.

MisasaKan: This establishment boasts a 4.1-star rating on Google Maps. To make reservations, you can call them at +81858430311. Its address is 174 Yamada, Misasa, Tōhaku District, Tottori 682-0122, Japan.