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A Taste of Excellence

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A taste of excellence; Hakushu Water

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     Yamanashi Meijo Shichiken located at the foot of Yamanashi’s Mt. Kai-komagatake is a sake brewery overflowing with history. Starting with first generation Ibei Kitahara who fell in love with the water quality of Hakushu (modern day Hokuto-city), and this same source of water continues to be used in new and innovative ways even today, over 300 years later. To Shichiken 12th generation managing Director Hyogo Kitahara, it is Shichiken’s duty to produce “sake that embodies Hakushu water” to its fullest potential. To create the best Hakushu sake, those at Shichiken work hard to embed the pure taste of the local region in every bottle. This includes cultivating local rice, drawing out the cleanest Hakushu water and working closely with local farmers.

     Shichiken has offers various free tours and sake tasting experiences where you can even have a sip of their famous bubbling sake. One of my favorite parts was that if you’re lucky you’re even allowed to have a bite of the unique rice that the sake is made from. 

     They also offer a special restaurant that serves fresh and local dishes seasoned perfectly with their own brand of sake. For those who love history, the main building of the brewery has been around for almost 200 years and has a special room on show where the Meiji Emperor once stayed that you a tour for just 200 yen. This special exhibit, as well as the Shichiken store (which also sells Shichiken’s own brand of cosmetics) are certainly two places not to miss on your way home.

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     Taking a ride out North West for a little less than ten minutes, you’ll find yourself in the well sized campus of the Suntory Hakushu Distillery. Also located on the foot of Kai-Koma (as Mt. Kai-Komagatake is often affectionately called) the distillery also specializes in bringing out the pure and crisp taste of the local water into every bottle of their delicious Hakushu Whisky.

     For just 1,000 yen you can join the Hakushu Distillery Tour with translations available in English, Chinese and French (reservation must be made in advance). Here you can learn in depth about the ingredients that go into the whisky, peak into the bubbling washback’s used for fermentation and take photos in front of the impressive heated pot stills which vary in size and shape.

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     But of course, the highlight of the tour for whisky lovers is what comes at the end. A brilliant tasting experience that helps culminate that knowledge of whisky that you’ve gained throughout the tour. Not to give away too much of the experience, however, here you can have a taste of the component whiskies used to make Single Malt Whisky Hakushu which isn’t even sold in stores. At a total of 1,000 yen this is certainly a steal. You also learn how to make your own highball using some of Suntory’s sparkling water made here at Hakushu. You even have a chance to snack on some delicious and well suiting nuts and chocolates that are also available at the factory store next to the tasting room. Just like Shichiken, Suntory also has an on-campus restaurant that uses local food which matches perfectly with their Hakushu Whisky.

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     With plenty to do, and much to drink the Shichiken Sake Brewery and Suntory Hakushu Distillery are places not to be missed for sake and whisky fans alike. On your next journey through Yamanashi why not stop by and have a taste of excellence at both Yamanashi Meijo Shichiken and Suntory’s Hakushu Distillery!

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< For More information > 

Yamanashi Meijo Co.,Ltd.
2283 Daigahara, Hakusyu-cho, Hokuto-city,
Yamanashi pref. Japan 408-0312
TEL : 011-81-551(35)2236
MAIL : english@sake-shichiken.co.jp
HP: https://www.sake-shichiken.co.jp/en/sparkling/

Suntory Hakushu Distillery
2913-1 Torihara, Hakushu-cho, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi Prefecture
TEL : +81-551-35-2211
Operating hours: 9:30 - 16:30 (Last entry at 16:00)
Closed: Over the New Year's holiday and during distillery shutdowns
(some of which are not scheduled in advance)
HP: https://www.suntory.com/factory/hakushu/