Taste the best liquors and wines Hokkaido has to offer by visiting the following sites:
1. Nikka Whiskey Distillery
Liquor lovers who love their whiskey are sure to enjoy a treat when they drop by one of Japan's most famous whiskey makers. Nikka Whiskey Distillery was founded by Taketsuru Matsutaka, who studied the traditional methods of making the popular drink during his long stay in Scotland. When he got back to Japan, he established the first-ever whiskey distillery, and the rest is history.
What's good? The site offers free tours to visitors! Listen to the tour guides, who give out tours both in English and Japanese, and find out how whiskey is made. Also, you get to sample different variants of Nikka whiskey at the end of the tour.
2. Sapporo Beer Museum
When it comes to Japanese beer, few can compare to Sapporo, one of the oldest and most popular brand of Japanese beer. The Sapporo beer museum has a more lax tour program, as visitors can explore the museum at their own pace. Here, you can appreciate the long history of the classic beer brand, which has been around since 1877.
Although the tour is free, the beer-tasting session has a fee of 200 yen for each glass. Not really a bad price for high-quality beer fresh from the tap. The museum also has a beer garden where visitors can enjoy the beer with BBQ lamb.
3. Asahi Beer Factory
Another big name in the Japanese beer industry is Asahi. Just like Sapporo, the brand has been around as early as the 19th century, with the first factories manned by German prisoners from World War I. The factory offers a free tour, where you will be accompanied by a guide as you follow the brewing process.
Perhaps the highlight for liquor lovers visiting Asahi Beer Factory is the 20 minutes of free-flowing, freshly-brewed beer. Yep, you basically get to drink as much high-quality beer as you can for a little under half an hour.
4. Otaru Wine Gallery
Hokkaido is Japans largest producer of grapes. With over 300 grape farms coming from 24 cities in the prefecture, it's not surprising that a lot of wine also happen to come from Hokkaido. All of Hokkaido's different wine brands come together at the Otaru Wine Gallery, where you can also witness how the local people turn grapes into fine wine.
If you want to take some good Hokkaido wine when you leave the place, you're in luck. There's a shop nearby that sells all available brands of Hokkaido wine, so you know where to go once you're done touring the place.
5. Kirin Beer Factory
If you're bringing younger people with you, consider checking out Kirin Beer Factory. The company offers a comprehensive tour that lets you take a look at every department involved with making the beer, and it can be a fun and educational experience for young people. What makes the place kiddy-friendly, however, is that the free beer-tasting after the tour also includes non-alcoholic beverages, so the children aren't left high and dry.
To avoid the crowd, you want to be in one of the first batches of people touring the place. Tours start as early as 9:30, and you can even register ahead of schedule via the factory’s official website. This way, the guides will be able to accommodate you the moment you get there.
There are plenty of other destinations for liquor-lovers in Japan, but what better way to start your quest for good drinks than starting at the top? A trip to Hokkaido won't just warm your spirit, but also your belly – with fine beer, whiskey, and wine.
(Photo by sousui via Flickr)
Article written by Maria