Tokyo’s Whisky Bars

ByMichael Stigall
Sep 28, 2022

Tokyo’s Whisky Bars

When it comes to alcohol and Japan, the first thing to come to mind for the longest time was sake. While the traditionally fermented rice wine holds a special place in Japanese culture,, things are slowly changing on the street level, where more people are reaching for whisky than ever before. Over the last decade or so, more and more consumers have looked to whisky as the signature spirit of Japan. There is good reason for this; Japanese whiskies such as Suntory’s single malt Yamazaki have taken international awards and celebrated as some of the world’s best drams. Meanwhile, a walk through Tokyo’s many nightlife districts will find you surrounded by countless bars offering whisky highballs and stocked to the gills with Suntory, Nikka, and offerings from smaller distilleries that have sprung up in this new whisky revolution. So where does one start to explore Japanese whisky,, and, more importantly, where does one find the good stuff? We’ve compiled a few choice options to get you started on your journey exploring Tokyo’s Whisky Bars.  

Tokyo Whisky Library

Obviously, we were going to start with Tokyo Whisky Library. Located just a few minute’s from Omotesando Station, the Whisky Library is the perfect place to sample the many styles of whisky available from Japan and abroad. This establishment is pure class and serves more than 1200 different bottles of whisky, living up to its name as a compendium of all things whiskey. I could spend an hour just pouring over the menu, preferably with a nice single malt in hand to get me started. The atmosphere is comfy, and there are plenty of seats. It may be my favorite place in Omotesando, which is saying a lot. This is the perfect place for whisky connoisseurs and newbies alike.  

Address: Minamiaoyama santakiarakyoukai 2F, 5-5-24, Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku,
Tokyo, 107-0062

Bar Zoetrope

Bar Zoetrope already has a good reputation and often comes up in any whisky discussion in Tokyo. And for good reason! Located in Nishi-Shinjuku and popular with locals and foreign guests alike, this is a place to sit back, relax, enjoy a rare whisky, and watch a movie. In addition to the many rare and limited edition whiskies on hand, the owner is a bit of a film buff and often screens movies for his guests. Top shelf whisky and classic cinema? Count me in. I’ll see you at the bar. 

Address: Gaia Bldg 4, 3F, 7-10-14  Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023

Star Bar

Heading across town to Ginza, we find ourselves at the Star Bar. While Ginza has no shortage of whisky bars and classy places to grab a drink, STAR BAR takes it to another level. The bar offers rare whiskies, signature cocktails, and, get this, hand-cut ice. You can find an entirely new level of service at the STAR BAR and probably a rare vintage or two. Keep in mind there is a cover charge of 1,000 yen, and the prices are more than your typical joint offering highballs, but this is Ginza after all, and  I even would say it is worth it if you are serious about your whisky. 

Address: 1-5-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061 

Hibiya Bar Whisky-S

Last but not least, ur journey brings us another Ginza legend, Hibiya Bar Whisky-S. The bar is in collaboration with Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery, so most of their options are Suntory’s many whiskies. This is a great choice to sample your way through the Suntory offerings without visiting one of the distilleries in person. The prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere brings to mind at the distillery. There is another bar nearby, Hibiya Bar Whisky-S II, that focuses on the Hakushu Distillery. You could hit up both bars if you’d like, as they both have stellar reputations. 

Address: Kaneko Bldg B1, 3-3-9 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061

Dr-john, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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