Located at the foot of Mt Fuji, Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery began its first bottling in 1973 and today is one of the few whisky distilleries in the world that distill both malt and grain whiskies. The pure water that has been filtering through the majestic mountain over a period of 50 years is used in all the whiskies produced here. As a result, the Kirin Fuji-Sanroku Signature Blend, a mix of both malt and grain whiskies, is revered for its clean finish and fruity, floral notes.
The well-organised tour kicks off with a cinematic experience – an entertaining 10-minute, widescreen, projection-mapped documentary on the history of Kirin’s whisky production. After that, you’ll walk through the multiple stages of the distilling process: see the enormous pot stills, visit the aroma booth, view the bourbon casks used to age the whisky, and observe the action in the labelling and packaging room. Then, wrap things up with two free whisky tastings in the European- style bar.
The adjacent gift store is a great place to purchase Kirin whiskies and related paraphernalia from hip flasks to cute whisky glasses with Mt Fuji rising inside. Don’t miss the observation deck on a clear day, where you may be able to catch a glimpse of the glorious aforementioned mountain. Tours run every 30 minutes, last about 70 minutes and are conducted in Japanese. However, there’s English audio guides and pamphlets, and much of the signage is bilingual.