Mars Whisky logo with lion, bird, and anchor shield.

Mars Tsunuki Distillery

  • Japan
  • 2023 Best In-Class Japanese Whisky, 2023 Best In-Class Japanese Whisky, 2023 Double Gold
Phone Number
  • +81993552121
  • 6594 Kasedatsunuki, Minamisatsuma, Kagoshima 899-3611, Japan

Modern distillery building with logo at dawn.


History of Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Discovering Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Established in November 2016, the Mars Tsunuki Distillery, operated by Hombo Shuzo, boasts a captivating history. Nestled in the heart of Minamisatsuma City, Japan, this distillery holds a special place as it stands on the very land where Hombo Shuzo was born.

A Natural Oasis

The distillery is embraced by the stunning landscape of two majestic mountains, Mount Nagaya and Mount Kurata. Notably, Mount Kurata serves as the source of spring water, a crucial element in the distillation process.

Hombo Shuzo: A Legacy Unfolded

The story of Hombo Shuzo, the parent company, unfolds its roots back to 1872. It has played a pivotal role in Japan’s liquor industry, initially focusing on shochu production. The Mars Tsunuki Distillery represents a significant expansion into the world of whisky.

Distinctive Whisky Crafting

In contrast to its sister distillery, Mars Shinshu, known for its lighter and cleaner whisky style, Mars Tsunuki takes a unique path. Here, a heavier and thicker malt is crafted, resulting in distinctive whisky characteristics.

Malts from Across the Globe

The distillery employs various malt types, including caramel malt, beer malt, and Maris Otter, strategically chosen to impart specific aromas and flavors. These malts are sourced from diverse countries such as Scotland, Germany, Austria, Japan, New Zealand, and England.

Traditional Stills and Aging Cellars

Mars Tsunuki Distillery houses traditional stills—a 5800-litre wash still and a 3300-litre spirit still. The presence of its aging cellar further contributes to the unique qualities of its whiskies.

Noteworthy Whiskies

The distillery has created several exceptional whiskies, including the “Mars Tsunuki Single Malt Edition 2022” and “Edition 2023,” celebrated for their rich and distinctive flavors. The 2022 edition, in particular, earned accolades, winning Double Gold and Best In Class Japanese Whisky at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2023.

An Immersive Experience

Visitors are invited to embark on a journey through the old still tower buildings and the stone barrel warehouse. Here, they can gain insights into the whisky production process and delve into the intriguing history of Hombo Shuzo’s liquor-making heritage.

Tasting and Treasures

The distillery offers tasting experiences for whisky and shochu enthusiasts, providing a unique opportunity to savor their exceptional creations. A well-curated gift shop awaits, featuring a selection of original and local products for visitors to cherish.

A Unique Chapter in Japanese Whisky

Mars Tsunuki Distillery, with its blend of historical significance, innovative whisky craftsmanship, and idyllic surroundings, stands as a distinct and memorable chapter in the captivating story of Japanese whisky.

Awards Won by Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Mars Tsunuki Distillery has received several notable awards, showcasing the quality and excellence of its whisky products.
These awards include:

Mars Tsunuki Single Malt Edition 2023: Mars Tsunuki Distillery has garnered significant recognition in the whisky industry, evidenced by its prestigious awards. Some notable accolades include:

2023 Double Gold: Awarded by The San Francisco World Spirits Competition, this distinction highlights the distillery’s excellence in producing high-quality whiskies.

2023 Best In-Class Japanese Whisky: Also from The San Francisco World Spirits Competition, this award distinguishes Mars Tsunuki as a leading producer in the Japanese whisky category, affirming its superior quality and craftsmanship.

Mars Tsunuki Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The Mars Tsunuki Distillery on Yakushima Island offers a unique and immersive tour experience.

Here’s a summary of what visitors can expect:

Yakushima’s Soft Water

The island, known for its high rainfall and mountainous terrain, provides abundant soft water, which is crucial in the distillation process. Visitors are encouraged to experience the soft water of Yakushima along with the distillery’s products.

Shochu-Making Process

The distillery showcases traditional techniques, including handmade koji and ancient earthenware pots. During the sweet potato harvest season, visitors can observe the beginning of the shochu-making process, including koji and fermentation.

Mars Yakushima Aging Cellar

This facility on the distillery grounds is used for aging some of the whisky produced at Mars Shinshu Distillery in Nagano and Mars Tsunuki Distillery in Kagoshima. The unique climate of Yakushima contributes to the distinctive aging process of the whisky.

Tasting Experience: The shop at the distillery offers a variety of spirits for sale and tasting, including exclusive products like Yakushima limited shochu, Kagoshima limited whisky, and spirits aged in the Mars Yakushima Aging Cellar.

Exclusive Products: The shop also sells limited-edition spirits and other products that are not widely distributed, making them unique souvenirs.

Tour Information

Visitors need to book in advance for a tour. The tour is free of charge, including tastings. Children are allowed on tours, but groups of minors are not permitted. The distillery operates on a reservation basis and may have irregular closing days.

Facilities: Free parking is available, but no dining facilities are on site. Photography is allowed, but commercial photography requires prior consultation.

Flask & Barrel Review of Mars Tsunuki Distillery

As a seasoned whisky collector who’s toured numerous distilleries, I must say Mars Tsunuki Distillery really stands out. Nestled in the scenic beauty of Minamisatsuma, this distillery blends traditional craftsmanship with a modern touch.

The tour was a delight, showcasing their unique stills and ageing process. The highlight? Tasting their distinct whiskies – the bold, rich flavours are a testament to the subtropical climate’s influence. The visitor centre, with its charming ambience, adds to the experience.

Overall, I’d give it a 4.7 out of 5 – a must-visit for any whisky enthusiast!

What To Do Nearby Mars Tsunuki Distillery

Chiran Peace Museum (14.1 km away): A poignant and educational visit, this museum offers deep insights into World War II history and is a must-visit for history buffs.

Chiran Samurai Residence Garden (15.3 km away): Immerse yourself in the beauty of traditional Japanese gardens and architecture, perfect for a tranquil afternoon stroll.

Satsuma Shuzo Brewery Meijigura (9.7 km away): For those who appreciate the art of brewing, this brewery is an excellent addition to your itinerary. It’s not just about whisky in this region!

JR Makurazaki Station (9.7 km away): A hub for local transit, it’s also an interesting spot to visit for its unique architecture and bustling atmosphere.

Bansei Tokko Peace Memorial Hall (8.8 km away): Another important historical site, offering insights into local history and its impact on the region.

Makurazaki Fish Center (9.9 km away): Seafood lovers, take note! This is the place to enjoy fresh local seafood and experience the vibrant local fishing industry.

Fukiagehama Coast Dune (9 km away): Nature enthusiasts will enjoy this natural attraction’s stunning coastal views and unique dune formations.

Takeda Shrine (6.4 km away): Dive into the spiritual side of Japan with a visit to this serene and historic shrine.

Hotarukan Tomiyashokudo (14.8 km away): A great dining spot for those looking to sample local cuisine and enjoy a traditional Japanese dining experience.

Mt. Kamegaoka (7.2 km away): For outdoor enthusiasts, a hike up this mountain offers breathtaking views and a refreshing escape into nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Mars Tsunuki Distillery?

Ichifuku: It has a rating of 4.0 stars on Google Maps. The restaurant is located at Japan, 〒898-0014 Kagoshima, Makurazaki, Higashihonmachi, 8. The contact number is +81993723347.

Dining Bar ENGINE: This restaurant has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. It is situated at 454 Kotobukicho, Makurazaki, Kagoshima 898-0062, Japan. The contact number for reservation is +81993728776.

Herb & Cafe Restaurant Yuu: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. You can find it at 1271 Kasedauchiyamada. The contact number for reservation is +81993532158

What hotels are near Mars Tsunuki Distillery?

Makurazaki Station Hotel: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them at +81993723231. Their address is Japan, 〒898-0017 Kagoshima, Makurazaki, Sumiyoshicho, 10−10.

ゲストハウスKoToKoTo (Guesthouse KoToKoTo): This serviced accommodation has a perfect rating of 5.0 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them at +818033765024, and their address is 57-1 Sumiyoshicho, Makurazaki, Kagoshima 898-0017, Japan.

Yoshiya: This 2-star hotel has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. The contact number is +81993535527 and address is Japan, 〒897-0006 Kagoshima, Minamisatsuma, Kasedahoncho, 44−20.