Have you made it up to Hokkaido recently?
The northernmost part of Japan, far from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and Osaka, brings an experience like no other. Hokkaido is the second largest, and coldest, island of Japan, known for its natural hot springs, popular skiing areas, and the world-famous annual Sapporo snow festival.
The culinary scene in Hokkaido is amazing. The cold waters surrounding the island supply only the freshest, tastiest seafood. The majority of the country’s dairy products, agricultural products, and beef also come from Hokkaido.
The climate, with similarities to Scotland, was one of the characteristics that brought Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese whisky, to the land, to establish the great Yoichi distillery just north of the city of Sapporo.
Visiting the distillery is a must for any lover of Japanese whisky, as visitors are taken back through time, to experience the rise of Japanese whisky first hand. The distillery resembles a village, with many small, stone buildings scattered across the site. With tradition and culture at the forefront, Yoichi goes above and beyond to preserve its origins and history.
On site, historical buildings are maintained to remind staff and visitors alike of the company’s origins. Among them are the small, original head office building and the former Taketsuru residence.
Dekanta was recently at the distillery, and after taking the tour for the 10th time, we discovered some wonderful bottlings at the distillery shop.
Yoichi Distillery Exclusives
After a lovely relaxing tour of the grounds (it wasn’t snowing), we made our way to the tasting area, where we sampled the exclusive Yoichi single malt bottlings. It wasn’t our first time trying them, but we need to keep our palate trained……
The bottlings are all Yoichi single malts and are named after their distinctive flavour profile. This isn’t a common practice in the whisky world, as companies usually don’t want to box a whisky into any, specific flavour categories. Yet, Nikka’s distilleries have taken a different approach, clearly featuring the expected notes.
Woody & Vanillic – Out of the three, this was my favourite. Dangerously smooth and drinkable, the vanilla and oak notes are evident atop the traditional, powerful Yoichi character. The balance was amazing, all the way through to the end of the second dram.
Sherry & Sweet – You’re sitting by the campfire, munching on dried raisins and plums. Smoke aromas are evident, as is the sweetness and spiciness of the sherry influence.
Peaty & Salty – Peatheads, assemble! This one brings power, peat, power, and peat. If you are sampling the three, leave this bad boy for last, so as not to destroy your palate for the rest.
The day at Yoichi was a great one, as were the whiskies sampled. Sadly, these bottles are only available for purchase at the distillery, but if you can’t make it up any time soon, grab a set here or, if you just want a sample, here.