Nikka Logo

Nikka Distillery

  • Japan
  • World Whiskies Awards 2019, International Spirits Challenge (ISC) 2018, World Whiskies Awards 2018
Phone Number
  • +81135233131
  • Japan, 〒046-0003 Hokkaido, Yoichi District, Yoichi, Kurokawacho, 7 Chome−6

Historic stone castle complex with red roofs and greenery.

History of Nikka Distillery

The Visionary Founder: Masataka Taketsuru

The saga of Nikka Whisky began with its founder, Masataka Taketsuru. Born into a Hiroshima sake brewing family in 1894, Taketsuru’s destiny seemed intertwined with the art of alcohol production from the beginning. His quest for whisky knowledge led him to Scotland in 1918, where he immersed himself in chemistry at the University of Glasgow and mastered distilling techniques at various local distilleries. This journey was more than just educational; it was where he met his future wife, Rita, who would become an integral part of his life and the Nikka story. Taketsuru’s return to Japan in 1920 with Rita marked the beginning of a new chapter in Japanese whisky history.

Nikka’s Inception: A Blend of Cultures

Taketsuru’s vision materialized in 1934 with the establishment of Dai Nippon Kaju Co., Ltd., the company that would later become Nikka Whisky. His profound expertise in traditional Scottish whisky-making techniques, combined with his deep understanding of Japanese tastes and resources, played a pivotal role in defining Nikka’s unique identity. This fusion of Scottish tradition and Japanese precision crafted a new path in whisky production.

History of The Nikka Distilleries: Yoichi and Miyagikyo

The first distillery, Yoichi, located in Hokkaido, was chosen for its environmental similarity to Scotland, a critical factor in replicating authentic Scotch whisky. Yoichi’s first distillation took place in 1936, and it quickly gained a reputation for producing rich, peaty, and robust whiskies. In contrast, the Miyagikyo Distillery, established in Sendai in 1969, aimed to create softer, more delicate whiskies, showcasing Nikka’s versatility.

Global Acclaim and Legacy

Nikka Whisky has garnered international recognition and numerous awards, including the Yoichi 20 Year Old being voted as the best single malt at the World Whiskies Awards in 2008. This acclaim reflects Nikka’s commitment to quality and innovation.

Nikka’s story is more than just whisky production; it’s a tale of cultural integration, dedication, and passion. The brand’s adherence to traditional methods and forward-thinking approaches position it as a beacon in the whisky world. As it continues to evolve, Nikka not only preserves the legacy of its founder but also shapes the future of whisky.

Awards Won by Nikka Distillery

World Whiskies Awards 2019: Nikka’s Taketsuru Pure Malt 25 Years Old was awarded the “World’s Best Blended Malt.” This marked a significant achievement for Nikka, as it was the first time this product received this award.

International Spirits Challenge (ISC) 2018: The Nikka Coffey Vodka was awarded the Vodka Category’s top “TROPHY.” This was particularly notable as it was the first international competition the product entered.

World Whiskies Awards 2018: The Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Years Old won the “World’s Best Blended Malt.” This was the fourth time this particular product received this honor, further cementing Nikka’s reputation in the industry.

Icons of Whisky Awards 2016: Nikka Whisky was a big winner, receiving the overall “Distiller of the Year” honors. Additionally, the Distillery Manager of the Year award was presented to Yoichi’s Koichi Nishikawa.

ISC 2015: Nikka Whisky won the supreme title of “Distiller of the Year” at the ISC 2015 Trophies. The company collected 13 medals, including 8 gold, showcasing the excellence of their entire range of products.

Yoichi 20 Year Old: In 2008, this product was voted the best single malt at the World Whiskies Awards, reflecting Nikka’s expertise in producing single malt whiskies.

Nikka Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Nikka Distillery offers tours at both its Yoichi and Miyagikyo locations, allowing visitors to explore the rich history and whisky-making process of this renowned brand.

Yoichi Distillery Tour Overview

Tour Duration and Content: Approximately 70 minutes long, the guided Yoichi Distillery tour offers an in-depth understanding of the whisky production process, from malting to maturation. It culminates in a complimentary tasting session where guests can savor Nikka’s distinct flavors.

Reservation Policy: It’s essential to reserve your spot in advance, as the tours are in high demand.

Annual Closure: Note that the distillery is closed from December 23rd to January 7th.

Facilities: Visitors have access to the Nikka Museum, which provides a historical perspective on Nikka Whisky. Rita’s Kitchen serves dishes and drinks featuring Hokkaido ingredients, offering a culinary complement to the whisky experience. The distillery shop offers exclusive editions and merchandise.

Miyagikyo Distillery Tour Highlights

Tour Focus: Similar to the Yoichi tour, it lasts around 70 minutes and delves into the specifics of whisky production at Miyagikyo, renowned for its lighter, more delicate whisky profiles.

Reservations and Availability: Like Yoichi, bookings are necessary. The distillery is closed annually from December 18th to January 7th.

Additional Features: The tour includes a visit to the visitor center, a look inside the warehouse where aging occurs, and a gift shop. The tasting bar offers a selection of Nikka whiskies, including some exclusive to the distillery.

Nikka Museum: A Gateway to Whisky Heritage

Inauguration and Purpose: Opened in 2021, the Nikka Museum is more than just an exhibition space; it’s an interactive journey through Nikka’s history and the art of whisky making.

Exhibits and Sections: The museum hosts a variety of exhibits, including:

  • Blender’s Lab: Showcasing the crucial role of blenders in maintaining and innovating Nikka’s whisky flavors.
  • Story of Nikka Whisky: This area delves into the stories behind Nikka’s key brands, offering insights into their unique characteristics.
  • Distiller’s Talk: A multimedia section where visitors can hear directly from the staff involved in whisky making.
  • Taketsuru-ism: Dedicated to Masataka Taketsuru, this section reflects on his life, his vision for Nikka, and his enduring influence on Japanese whisky.

Tasting Bar: For a fee, visitors can taste various Nikka whiskies, including limited distillery products, enriching the educational experience with sensory exploration.

Planning Your Visit

For those interested in visiting, it’s recommended to plan ahead and book tours in advance due to their popularity. Each tour and the museum offer a unique window into the world of Nikka Whisky, combining educational elements with sensory experiences to create a memorable visit.

Flask & Barrel Review of Nikka Distillery

As a seasoned whiskey collector who’s been on quite a few distillery tours, I’ve got to say, my recent visit to Nikka Distillery was pretty impressive. I’d rate it a solid 4.7 out of 5. Here’s why:

First off, the location is just stunning. Nestled in Yoichi, Hokkaido, the distillery’s setting is almost as enjoyable as the whiskey itself. The air’s crisp, and you can catch that slight hint of sea breeze, which, I reckon, adds a unique touch to their whiskey.

The tour itself was top-notch. It lasted around 70 minutes and was a real deep dive into the whiskey-making process. I’ve seen my fair share of distilleries, but the way Nikka combines tradition with modern techniques really stands out.

Their use of coal-fired pot stills is a rare sight these days and speaks volumes about their commitment to traditional methods. It’s like stepping back in time but with a contemporary edge.

What I appreciated most was the depth of information provided. The guides didn’t just skim the surface. They delved into the history of Nikka and its founder, Masataka Taketsuru, which added a lot of context to the tasting experience. Speaking of which, the complimentary tasting at the end of the tour was the highlight.

I got to try a range of their whiskies, and each had its distinct character – a testament to their blending expertise.

The Nikka Museum was another highlight. It’s not just a display of bottles; it’s more about the journey of Nikka and the art of whiskey-making. For a whiskey enthusiast like me, it was both educational and fascinating.

If I had to nitpick, the only downside was the reservation system. It’s understandable given the tour’s popularity, but it requires a bit of planning ahead.

The Nikka Distillery tour is a must for any whiskey lover. It strikes the perfect balance between informative and enjoyable, and you can tell they pour their heart and soul into their whiskey. It’s not just about tasting whiskey; it’s about experiencing the passion and history behind it. Worth the trip!

What To Do Nearby Nikka Distillery

Kakizaki Shoten: Just 0.3 km from the distillery, this spot is a must-visit for anyone interested in local Japanese food and culture.

Yoichi Tourist Association: Also located 0.3 km from the distillery, the tourist association can provide additional information on local attractions and activities.

Universe Memorial Hall Yoichi: Situated 0.4 km from Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery, this memorial hall offers an educational experience about the universe and space.

Elra Plaza: If you’re into shopping, Elra Plaza is just 0.4 km away and offers a variety of local products.

Space Apple Yoichi Michi-no-Eki: This place is great for those who are interested in local produce and souvenirs. It’s located 0.4 km from the distillery.

Yoichi Kanko Onsen: At a distance of 0.6 km, this is a great spot to relax and unwind in a traditional Japanese hot spring.

Rita Road: About 0.6 km from Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery, Rita Road is a charming area to explore and enjoy the local scenery.

Yoichi Athletic Park: Located 0.6 km away, this park is perfect for those looking to stretch their legs and enjoy some outdoor activities.

Uchu no Yu Yoichigawa Onsen: A little further away at 0.8 km, this onsen offers another opportunity for relaxation in a hot spring.

Okawa Bridge: This scenic bridge is about 0.9 km away and offers a picturesque spot for a leisurely walk or some photography.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Nikka Distillery?

RITA’s Kitchen: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them on their phone at +81 135-23-8555. Their address is 7-133 Kurokawacho Nikka Kaikan 1F, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido.

Nikka Whiskey Hall: This restaurant has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. They can be contacted at +81 135-23-3131. Located at 7-133 Kurokawacho, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido.

Kakizaki Honten Kaisen Kobo: This place has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them at +81 135-22-2236. The address is 7-25 Kurokawacho 2F Kakizaki Shoten, Yoichi-cho, Yoichi-gun, Hokkaido.

What hotels are near Nikka Distillery?

Hotel Nord Otaru: This hotel, located 10.7 miles from the distillery, offers comfortable rooms and a peaceful environment. It has a total of 492 reviews. You can contact them at +81 134-31-3111. The address is 1-4-16 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido.

Grand Park Otaru: Situated 11.8 miles from the distillery, this hotel has received 1,304 reviews. For more information, you can reach them at +81 134-21-3111. The address is 11-3 Chikko, Otaru, Hokkaido.

Unwind Hotel & Bar Otaru: Located 10.7 miles from the distillery, it has a total of 80 reviews. Their contact number is +81 134-24-2080, and they are situated at 1-8-25 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido.