The Scottish castle looking building of the linked post was one of the places we planned to visit on this trip to Hokkaido. It is the site of the original Nikka Whisky Distillery, founded in 1934 by Taketsuru Masataka.
Masataka was born to a family which had distilled sake since 1733, but in 1918 he went to Scotland to study chemistry at the University of Glasgow. He also worked in a number of whisky distilleries while there and in 1920 married Jessie Roberta "Rita" Cowan of Middlecroft, Kirkintilloch.
|Rita and Masataka in 1920|
|K with the barrel head sign inside the entrance.|
The original buildings make for an interesting tour, while on the adjacent land, Asahi runs the modern distillery.
|Still life? Ahem. From these stills, the whisky was decanted into large vats in the next room, and ultimately, into oak barrels for aging. A large screen at the entrance to this room plays a video showing how these stills were operated.|
|Inside one of many warehouses, there is a display of aging barrels along with audio-video and step by step displays showing how barrels are made and what the pieces look like at each step.|
|After visiting an aging room, K seems hardly to have aged at all. ;)|
|Named for Rita, this was the management office in the center of the plant.|
|The Taketsuru home. Originally built in 1935, it was rebuilt by Yoichi town after WWII. Short commute, eh?|
|K inside the Nikka Whisky museum, which is filled with personal and distillery artifacts. There is also a bar in there where you can purchase whisky samples.|
|Some of the photographs and other memorabilia on display.|
|Pandabonium at the monument to Masataka Taketsuru|
In July of 2015, Nikka Whisky won several awards at the International Spirits Challenge in London, including Distiller of the Year and the Best International Blend Trophy along with six gold medals for individual products.
Rita passed away in January of 1961 at age 64. Masataka passed in 1989.
We had lunch at the distillery restaurant which was quite good. Our timing was just right as some tour groups were arriving just as we were leaving. We then visited the gift shop before heading to the train station to go to our next stop - Otaru City.
|The distillery as seen from the Yoichi train station.|
|JR Yoichi parking lot.|
|Sittin' at Yoichi Station, got a ticket for my destination....|