Beer and Whisky Factory Tours Enjoy PopularityArtisans' Skills Also Attracting Foreigners' Attention in Kyoto
Beer and whisky factory tours have enjoyed high popularity in Otokuni District, Kyoto Prefecture. Japanese manufacturing, which blends cutting-edge technology and the skills of Japanese traditionally-minded craftsman, has also attracted attention from foreign people.
Suntory Kyoto Brewery in Nagaokakyo City, Kyoto Prefecture, located near Hankyu Nishiyama-tennozan Station, was completed in 1969 and began to accept visitors from that year. The brewery offers a free shuttle-bus service, which makes a circuit of Hankyu Nishiyama-tennozan and JR Nagaokakyo Stations, and has become a popular tourist spot in recent years, with approximately 100,000 people visiting every year. Visitors can view the interior of tanks used while brewing beer that are lined up in the factory and so on. Also, the Kyoto Brewery offers a close-up look at the container-filling process for bottled beer which is produced only there amongst the company's four beer breweries nationwide.
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery in Shimamoto Town, Osaka Prefecture, well-known as the birthplace of Japanese whisky, is located about three kilometers southwest of this brewery. There, visitors can observe the manufacturing processes of fermentation, distillation, and maturing in a series. In addition, they can taste the unblended malt whiskies from each barrel, which, when blended together in a unique combination, become the popular whisky brand "Yamazaki" from which participants actually experience the skillful blending technique.
Thanks to the recent whisky boom, visitors have flocked to the distillery, reaching 127,000 guests in 2017 and exceeding the previous year by 7,000. Japanese whisky has also been increasing in standings overseas. Consequently, foreign people accounted for 16 percent of the participants who observed the manufacturing process in 2015, with the ratio reaching 27 percent, or over one in four people, in 2017. By country and region, the largest percentage are from the United States, Hong Kong and Australia, in descending order.
"Japanese whisky is popular even in my country, so my friends are envious that I had this opportunity to observe the whisky distillery. I am happy that I can enjoy tasting unblended malt whisky that's available only here," said an Australian woman with excitement.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)