Miyako Hotel New Archaic - Kansai’s newest gathering place

If you are looking for a hotel in Osaka that is reasonably priced ($150/night) and has easy access to the Yamazaki Distillery, I recommend The Miyako Hotel New Archaic. It's not in a touristy district like Namba or Umeda but there are still places to eat and shop around here. I chose to stay here for a night mainly because its only one train ride away from the Yamazaki Distillery and you wouldn't have to do much walking or train transfers.  

The Amagasaki JR train station is only about a 5-10 min short walk from the hotel and the train ride to the Yamazaki station is only about 30 min. *TIP* Make sure you take the JR line and not the Hanshin line. The fare is ¥640 yen (roughly $5) and its the recommended way to get to the distillery. You have the option to take a cab but it will probably cost you ¥5,000 or more. I wouldn't suggest driving either because there are no parking slots at the distillery and you will most likely will be drinking whisky.

Located between the cities of Osaka and Kobe, and offering easy access to the Osaka Airport and the Kansai International Airport, Amagasaki City is ideally positioned as the venue of choice for gatherings in the Kansai area. And at the heart of Amagasaki City lies the Miyako Hotel New Archaic, a cosmopolitan hotel rising 100 meters into the Amagasaki skyline. A member of the Miyako Hotels & Resorts, the Miyako Hotel New Archaic offers world-class service and hospitality, a wealth of choices in dining, complete banquet services, and a full range of business facilities. For business, special events, or just quiet moments by yourself or with friends, the Miyako Hotel New Archaic is pleased to comply with various requests.

Banquets for all occasions
Small private parties, grand wedding receptions, officiation functions… the Miyako Hotel New Archaic can help ensure the success of any size gathering for any occasion. The 15 banquet halls and function rooms include a large banquet hall capable of accommodating 480 guests for formal dinners or 800 guests for buffet style functions as well as party rooms with spectacular day and night time views. And after the event, the festivities can continue at any of the Hotel’s 6 restaurants and bars.

A perfect setting for that special day
To create a wedding ceremony most suitable to the bride and groom by expressing themselves in every detail in the ceremony. That is the most important concept for the Miyako Hotel New Archaic when hosting guests at a bridal reception. A marriage ceremony at the Miyako Hotel New Archaic can create beautiful memories that will be treasured forever. From the ceremony in our beautiful chapel, to the lavish reception afterwards, the Miyako Hotel New Archaic will make sure that every detail is carefully planned and perfectly executed. The superb food and excellent service, both in the renowned Miyako Hotel tradition, will ensure that your guests also take home memories that will last a lifetime. 

A wealth of choices in fine and casual dining
With six world-class bars and restaurants, Miyako Hotel New Archaic provides ample choices for fine dining & relaxing. On the 22nd floor, the TOP OF THE CRYSTAL sky bar presents a stunning panorama of Osaka Bay, while the KIFUNE Teppanyaki restaurant serves the finest Japanese beef with the freshest ingredients. On the 21st floor, the TSUNOKUNI kaseki restaurant offers an unmatched Japanese dining experience. On the 1st floor, the AZALEA restaurant features a richly varied menu alongside the inviting LOUNGE off the lobby. And the SAI-EN restaurant on the 1st floor below ground serves authentic Chinese delicacies. Our bars and restaurants will surpass your expectations with first-class flavors matched to the four seasons.

Miyako Hotel New Archaic
Address: 2-7-1 Showadori, Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture 660-0881, Japan
Phone: +81 6-6488-7777

How to drink Yamazaki Whisky - As recommended by the Yamazaki Distillery experts

So what’s the best way to enjoy your Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky? Well of course it would depend on which bottle you have as each has its recommended ways. There are no rules set in stone but it would typically be a waste to mix an older bottle such as the Yamazaki 25 with soda or in fact anything at all (including ice). However, a better bottle suited for mixing would be the “No Age” Yamazaki where you can become quite adventurous and even experiment with different ways to prepare your drink. The following below are the 6 recommended ways to enjoy your bottle of Yamazaki whisky as taught by the Yamazaki Distillery experts.

Yamazaki "No Age" Fireball
Whisky and Soda (Sparkling Water or Sprite) - Highball 
  1. Fill a glass to the brim with ice and allow it to chill.
  2. Pour in the whisky and stir well.
  3. Top off the glass with more ice.
  4. Add soda (1 part whisky and 3 to 4 parts soda) and stir once with a bar spoon.
During my current visit to Osaka, this seems to be a very popular drink at bars and restaurants. They even serve them in ready to drink cans as pictured here.

This is me enjoying my Suntory Highball at the Don Quijote store in Dotonbori.

Yamazaki Mineral Water sold at the Yamazaki Distillery

Whisky & Natural Mineral Water
  1. Fill a glass to the brim with ice and allow it to chill.
  2. Pour in the whisky and stir well. 
  3. Top off the glass with more ice.
  4. Add natural mineral water (1 part whisky and 2 to 2.5 parts water) and stir gently with a bar spoon.
A bit too much ice and H20 for me but for those who find the alcoholic vapors too offensive, this might be the way to go.
Yamazaki 12 on the rocks

On The Rocks
  1. Add a large chunk of ice to a glass.
  2. Add the whisky and stir gently with a bar spoon.
Best with done with a large sphere of ice instead of little ice cubes so that it chills the whisky enough without diluting the whisky.

Half Yamazaki Whisky Half Mineral Water

Twice Up
  1. Pour the whisky into a glass.
  2. Pour in an equal amount of natural mineral water stored at room-temperature.
For some a drop of water is enough to open up the flavor but this way recommends an equal amount. Not my preferred way to enjoy my whisky.

Yamazaki 18 with a large chunk of ice.

Half Rock
  1. Add a large chunk of ice to a glass.
  2. Add the whisky and stir with a bar spoon to chill.
  3. Add an equal amount of natural mineral water and stir again gently.
Similar to drinking it on the rocks but you add more water.

Yamazaki 25 enjoyed Neat

Straight or Neat
  1. Fill a third to a half glass with whisky and sip straight.
  2. *Optional* Prepare a separate glass with iced natural mineral water as a chaser.
IMO the best way to truly enjoy any whisky. Whether it be a single malt, blend or bourbon, you should always sample it neat first before adding anything into it.

I've learned to only drink my whisky neat from the very beginning but it wasn't recently until my recent trip to Japan until I got to properly try a variety of ixes all in one sitting. I really enjoyed the Highball as it makes a perfect refreshment in a hot summer day or even after a heavy workout.

*TIP* The Yamazaki tour offers a free tasting of the "No Age" Yamazaki as a Highball, On the Rocks, or Straight. If you wish to sample the older Suntory whiskies or varieties from all over the world, the tasting room downstairs is one of the most affordable places in the world to do so.

Whisky is Easy on the Body
Low in calories, low in carbohydrates. A single shot of whisky (30ml) with 40% alcohol content has around 68 kilocalories. While brewed beverages like beer, wine and sake contain some carbohydrates, distilled whisky does not contain carbohydrates.

Note: Per 100 grams according to the Standard Tables of Food Compositions in Japan, Fifth Revised Edition (Compiled by the Resources Council, Science and Technology Agency of Japan)

Aromatic Relaxation - The cask raging process produces the characteristically rich aromas of whisky, as soothing to the soul as a walk through a quiet forest.

Almost no purines - A single shot of whisky (30ml) is virtually free of purine content - far less than beer or sake.

Contains polyphenols - Aged whisky contains dissolved polyphenols, which come from the materials used to create the casks in which it is matured for many years.

Yamazaki 18 Single Malt Whisky - Japan Airport Limited Edition Bottle

Yamazaki 18 Japan Airport Limited Edition next to the Hakushu 18 Japan Airport Limited Edition

"Special design epitomizing the delicate beauties of Yamazaki"

It is an elegant flavor refined by the craftsmanship of the climate of the outskirts of Kyoto, an ancient capital with a millenium of history. A bouquet of sweet, gorgeous and estery fragrances reminiscent of flowers and fruits moistens the glass in your heart.

Yamazaki 18 Single Malt Whisky - Japan Airport Limited Edition Bottle 

"Rich with mature fall fruit..."

This limited edition can only be bought from all Japan Airport Duty Free Shops. This particular picture was taken on August 2015 at KIX International Airport in Osaka on the right wing shuttle terminal side after clearing immigration. 

*Tip* - Unlike most duty free shops in other countries, you cannot see the liquor displays from outside the shops so I initially had to walk the entire 3rd Floor searching for a liquor shop. Ask the information desk for help or enter the duty free shops that have cigarette displays from the outside.

This Yamazaki 18 Airport Limited Edition is priced at ¥50,000 ($400USD). A bit steep but this definitely makes a great gift. Also if you have a hard time finding the Yamazaki 18 elsewhere and desperately want one then this is a sure way to get it.

Yamazaki 18 Years Whisky Tasting Notes
Color: deep amber
Nose: raisin, apricot, cafe au lait, Mizunara (Japanese oak)
Palate: blackberries, strawberry jam, dark chocolate
Finish: long, spicy smooth

2010 - ISC GOLD
2014 - ISC GOLD

SWSC = San Francisco World Spirits Competition
IWSC = International Wine & Spirit Competition
ISC = International Spirits Challenge

Additional stills brought into Yamazaki to supply the growing demand

Cherishing Shinjiro Torii’s dream as we take the art of crafting whisky into the future

Suntory’s high-quality whisky has not only been satisfying the Japanese palate, but also been gaining global recognition as Japanese whisky. In an effort to create even more distinctive whiskies for the future, we built additional stills at the Yamazaki distillery in 2013, followed by the Hakushu distillery the following year. We will continue to craft whisky in a way that stays true to the original dream of our founder Shinjiro Torii, respecting the time-honored skills of our craftsmen while taking up new challenges with a view to the distant future-ten, twenty, even fifty years down the road.

Multiple pot stills line up parallel at the Yamazaki Distillery

A new addition to the Distillery

"Suntory Whisky. Achieved by the fusion of Japan’s abundant nature and craftsmanship."

The Yamazaki Whisky Making Process

"Diversity in the whisky-making, resulting in diversity of flavor"

Yamazaki’s pristine water used in the early stages of whisky-making

Katsura, Uji, and Kizu Rivers, merge at Yamazaki.
The whisky water is derived from this naturally clear and mineral rich water source right on the distillery premises.

In whisky-making, water is one of the key factors that determine the quality of whisky. In the area surrounding the Yamazaki distillery, selected after a thorough search for quality water all over Japan, spring water named “Rykyu no Mizu” (water of the imperial villa), selected as one of the hundred best natural mineral waters in Japan, and continues to bubble forth today. For the process water used at the Yamazaki distillery, this pure and high-quality groundwater that has been nurtured slowly over several eons of time is used.

Malt whisky is made from water and barley. We start by germinating and drying carefully selected two-rowed barely to produce malt. The malt is then finely ground and mixed with water in a mash tun, where enzymes in the malt break down the starch content into sugar. We then slowly filter the mixture to obtain clear, unclouded wort.

A display shows harvested barley and ground barley used during the mashing process.

Wooden and stainless steel wash backs

Next, we transfer the filtered wort to our wash backs and add yeast. The yeast converts the sugars in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide while generating the distinctive flavor components that define whisky. The fermented liquid that results from this process, called wash, can have many different characteristics depending on the factors such as the type of yeast used and the conditions under which it was fermented. 

A stainless steel washback where they apply yeast into the mashing process.

At the Yamazaki distillery, both wooden and stainless steel wash backs are used to produce various types of whiskies while carefully selecting appropriate yeast from among the several types of yeast that would best suit the desired whisky flavors.

Wooden washbacks used to produce rich-flavoured malt using naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria and other microorganism populations.

A variety of pot stills

The first pot still in the distillation floor.

The wash produced during the fermentation is now transferred to pot stills to undergo the distillation process twice, which results in a liquid with high alcohol concentration called “new make” ) a clear, colourless malt whisky fresh from the stills). By this time, the framework of the whisky’s ultimate flavor profile is already in place.

Multiple pot stills on the right side of the distillation floor.

At Suntory, we select from among a variety of pot stills in different shapes and sizes depending on the distinctive flavours we want to bring out in the whiskies. Suntory is one of just a tiny handful of distilleries around the world that work with several different types of pot stills.

Persistence to cask maturation

A variety of casks filled with different types of flavors stacked inside the maturation warehouse.

The distilled “new make” is then placed in casks where they will slowly age and mature. Maturation is a complex process of flavor development that depends on a variety of conditions. Even details like the size, shape, material, storage location of casks, and the climate of the region can make the same “new make” mature differently. The possible combinations are truly endless and it is truly the “mystery of cask maturation.” In this way, Suntory’s diversity in the whisky-making process from malting, mashing, fermentation and distillation through cask maturation allows it to produce hundreds of thousands of casks of whiskies each with distinctive flavors.

Rows of casks sleeping and neatly organized by date and kind.

The skill of master blenders brings out a variety of flavors 

Yamazaki Malt Matured in Sherry Butt distilled in 1989 displayed in the Whisky Library.

Finally, a variety of whiskies matured in casks are handed over to the care of blenders and they evaluate the extent of maturation of each cask and carefully select whiskies that will best be vetted into a final product with exactly the right characteristics. Our blenders taste up to two or three hundred types of whisky a day and predict when each cask will be at its best and when it should be used. These skilful craftsmen also manage our collection of whiskies by foreseeing what kind of whiskies will be needed in the future. Whisky-making that requires a long period of time, starting from malting through final batting, to determine the flavors of products can be considered as “collaborative work between blenders of the past, present and future.”

Unique Yamazaki Malt matured in Hogshead distilled in 1989 displayed in the Whisky Library.

Shinjiro Torii - The Founder of Japanese Whisky

"I want to create a perfect whisky that reflects the nature of Japan and the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship." - Shinjiro Torii

The founder of Japanese whisky, Shinjiro Torii

Shinjiro Torii pictured inside the Yamazaki Whisky Museum.

The history of Japanese whisky-making began with the passion of our founder, Shinjiro Torii. His ream to create a perfect whisky that reflects the nature of Japan and the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship led Torii to embark on the difficult business of authentic domestic whisky-making that no one had ever attempted at the time.

The history of Suntory whisky and, consequently, the history of Japanese whisky were begun by the fearless challenge undertaken Torii, who embarked on whisky-making, after prevailing against the opposition he faced.

The birthplace of Japanese whisky-making, Yamazaki Distillery

With his unwavering preference for high-quality water and natural environment that are vital in whisky-making, Shinjiro Torii selected the land of Yamazaki, located at the foot of Mt. Tennozan in southwestern Kyoto, from among several candidate sites. The land had long been famous for its exquisite natural water, which is even mentioned in the Manyoshu, the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry.

In 1923, construction of Japan's first malt whisky distillery began. It was a significant first step for Torii in realizing his dream. In this way, Yamazaki became the birthplace of Japanese whisky-making, and the history of the distillery has been equivalent to the history of Japanese whisky.

In search of new whiskies, Hakushu Distillery

Shinjiro Torii surmounted countless obstacles to produce several high-quality whiskies, and strove to introduce and entrench whisky culture in Japan. Taking Torii's dream even further, Keizo Saji, the second president of the company, established Suntory's second distillery in 1973. The location selected was situated at the foot of Mt. Kaikomagatake in the Southern Japan Alps. Making of new types of whisky that vary from whiskies produced at the Yamazaki distillery has begun at the distillery, which is unique in the world, being located at high altitude in a rich natural environment with Hakushu's purest water.

Globally-recognized Suntory Whiskies

In 2003, the Yamazaki 12 years single malt whisky produced at the Yamazaki distillery became the first Japanese whisky to win the gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) - the authoritative spirits competition in the world. Suntory continued to win several awards for its whiskies including the Hakushu 12 years single malt whisky. In 2010, Suntory became the first Japanese company to be awarded the title "Distiller of the Year" given to one distiller of a diverse range of high-quality products each year. Torii's long-cherished dream was finally realized in the homeland of whisky.