Some of Hakushu’s whisky is filtered by passing it through bamboo charcoal after maturation. The locals believe that this purifies the whisky, brings prosperity and keeps evil forces away
Country - Japan
tel - +81(0)551 35 2211
Guided tours of Hakushu Distillery take place every half an hour between 10am and 3.30pm daily.
How to pronouce Hakushu? hak-shoo
Hakushu is the highest and remotest distillery in Japan. It stands over 700 metres (2300 feet) above sea level and is more than three hours from the coast. The name of Hakushu is translated as ‘white sand bank’ in Japanese and this is believed to refer to the white sand and stones that line the small streams and rivers in the local area. The distillery is located in the middle of dense forest in the foothills of Mount Kai-Komagatake. It stands on a plateau surrounded by mountains on three sides and this creates a unique and very localised climate, that is perfect for maturing whisky. The water used in production is extremely soft and comes from springs whose source is under the granite rich foundations of Mount Kai-Komagatake. Hakushu whisky is still relatively unknown outside of Japan but that is changing as Japanese whisky’s popularity grows rapidly. Currently there is only a 12 years old single malt available in Europe, as much of the whisky produced there goes in to blends.
The Hakushu distillery was conceived by the Suntory company. They needed a new distillery to help their other facilty, the aging Yamazaki, meet the public demand for Japanese whisky during a boom period for the industry following the World War 2. Suntory planned to make Hakushu the flagship of their company and build the biggest whisky distillery in the world. However, a combination of planning issues, lack of capital and legal wrangling meant that construction on a scaled down version did not start until 1970. Production finally began in 1973. Construction then began on an extension and this started production of whisky in 1981. At that time, Hakushu was the largest whisky distillery in the world beating anything Scotland, Ireland or the USA had to offer. The older section of the distillery was re-named Hakushu West and the new section as Hakushu East. During the late 1980s, the Japanese whisky industry suffered a major slump and Hakushu West was closed down. Since then only Hakushu East has remained operational and produces three million litres of whisky a year. Hakushu West lays dormant and is occasionally used for business conferences and concerts.