Cherry blossom road in full bloom along Yoichi River
After driving for 30 minutes from Otaru city, there is the Yoichi town, which boasts Hokkaido No 1 production of grapes used for wine. A winery overlooking the Sea of Japan is dotted around the city, and it is a rich environment of the earth where fruit cultivation is active.
In spring, a row of cherry trees in the Yoichi River “Yoichigawa Sakura Dzutsumi” located just behind the Nikka Wisky factory is admirable.
The cherry blossoms lined along the river are not Ezo Yamazakura, but mainly Somei Yoshino with pale pink flowers. Cherry trees continue for approximately 5 km on both sides of the river, in about 1 km upstream of the Yoichi River mouth. If you walk on the left bank, you will see the red roof of the Nikka Whisky Factory on the cherry blossom trees at opposite side of Yoichi river.
It is also a unique attraction that the cherry blossoms immediately hang over the head, probably because the cherry trees are planted at a position slightly lower than the bank height.
By the way, the cherry blossom row of this Yoichi river is part of the route, “Rita's Promenade,” which Rita Taketsuru, the wife of Nikka whiskey founder Masataka Taketsuru, used to deliver lunch box. The townspeople of Yoichi City have been raised in 1993 as "Yoichi river wrapped Sakura" in a row of cherry blossom trees representing Yoichi.
Scenic and classical "Yoichi Distillery" in Yoichi town
In the idyllic and classical city of Yoichi, there is the full-fledged whiskey distillery "Yoichi distillery" built in Japan. It was built after the dream of making whiskey, "Massan", which became famous in the NHK morning drama, in pursuit of whiskey making.
The Yoichi Distillery has some buildings that have been in operation since 1934, and the main gate of the Distillery is a solid stone that gives a breath of history.
Birch trees and trees of Ezo pine are lined in the site, and scenery to let you feel exoticism with historic building. Pale greenery and cherry blossoms float in soft sunlight in Spring, a red roof floats on a blue sky with flowers swaying in the sea breeze in Summer, autumn leaves color a stone or brick building in Autumn, and it is covered in snow in Winter The distillery shows a fantastic atmosphere.
The site is full of attractions, including the former Taketsuru House where the Massan lived, and the Whiskey Museum, a refurbished storehouse.
A whiskey plant tour that follows the dream of "Massan"
Mr.Taketsuru, who sought to create the ideal whiskey, chose the Yoichi city blessed with high-quality pete, in addition to the clear air and the climate where the temperature does not rise much even in summer.
Since Nikka Whiskey Yoichi Distillery was fired on pot stills in 1965 and malt whiskey production started, whiskey distillation and storage have been carried out using the same process as at that time.
There is also a factory guided tour, and you can visit the "distilled building" and the "drying building" to learn about the manufacturing process. Of course, there is also tasting! If you want to see the actual whiskey structure, please check the date of manufacture on the official website before visiting.
About 80 years have passed since the manufacture of Nikka whiskey skis in Yoichi-cho, and production of whiskey has started in Akkeshi-cho, which is quite far from Yoichi. Hokkaido's second whiskey "Akkeshi whiskey" is expected to be utilized as a new tourist resource. People all over the world are also paying attention to the new challenges of Akkeshi-town, which are not defeated by Taketsuru's passion.