Food & Drink

The 8 Most Remote Distilleries in the World

There’s no shame in visiting an easily accessible distillery with regular hours and tour bus parking. But if you are willing to step off the well-beaten tourist path, you’ll be richly rewarded with once-in-a-lifetime tastings, rare craft spirits and truly memorable journeys. Here, the most epic distilleries you can visit in the most remote parts of the world.

Helena Distillery; Jamestown, St. Helena

Rich with lush, subtropical forests and encircled by rugged coastal cliffs, tiny St. Helena is one of the most remote populated islands in the word, located 1,200 miles off the coast of South Africa. The only way to reach this British territory is via a five-day cruise on the HMS Helena, which departs from Cape Town once every three weeks. The long trip is worth it for the gin, rum and liqueurs distilled from native ingredients at the St. Helena distillery. Located on the Jamestown seafront in a stone-walled basement underneath a bar, the distillery is famous for its fragrant Tungi spirit—a clear liquor distilled from the prickly pears that grow on the island. Be sure to grab a bottle (modeled after the 699 steps of the island’s historic Jacob’s Ladder staircase) for the long journey home—you’ll be hard pressed to find it elsewhere.

McHenry Distillery; Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia

Known primarily for the endangered carnivorous marsupials (or devils) that inspired the beloved Looney Tunes character, Tasmania is also home to the McHenry Distillery, Australia’s southernmost distillery. The distillery claims that the region has the world’s purest air, so take a deep breath before diving into a tasting of McHenry’s whisky, gin, vodka and sloe gin. The distillery is currently closed to visitors for refurbishments, but will reopen in November, 2016.  

Hakushu Distillery; Hokuto, Japan

This distillery, known for its scotch-rivaling whisky, is dwarfed by the massive Mt. Kaikoma and further concealed by a thick forest. A Suntory property, Hakushu is 700 meters above sea level, making it the highest distillery in Japan. It’s about a three-hour journey from Tokyo, via several different trains, but the whisky is well worth it. The whisky is said to age slower because of the high elevation, while the influence of the Ojira river gives it a fresh, herbal quality. The distillery is surrounded by panoramic mountain views and its tasting room has large glass windows that look out into the forest. If that isn’t tranquil enough for you, there’s also an on-site bird sanctuary.

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Yoichi Distillery; Hokkaido, Japan

The northernmost distillery in Japan, Nikki Whisky’s red-roofed and grey-walled Yoichi distillery is snow-covered for most of the year. It is located on the island of Hokkaido, which is known for its active volcanoes and natural hot springs. The distillery offers some of the best single malt whisky outside of Scotland.

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Bunnahabhain Distillery; Islay, Scotland

Visiting Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland, is a trip in itself, requiring a ferry or charter boat trip from the mainland. But once there, even the locals consider Bunnahabhain Distillery to be a haul. It can be reached by only one road, which weaves for miles around lochs and heathered hills. The road eventually leads to a village, built to house the distillery’s workers, where a cask in the road acts as a sign pointing in two directions: one way to the distillery and the other to “other places.” Following the sing, you’ll find the grey-walled, seaside distillery and its very un-Islay-like scotches, which are brighter and less smoky than most of the island’s other offerings.

Shetland Reel Distillery; Unst, Scotland

When it comes to Scotland, it’s not always about whisky. At the northernmost reach of the British Isles, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, lies the isle of Unst. There, the small Shetland Reel distillery uses native botanicals like apple mint and bladderwrack seaweed to create their ocean-inspired gin. You’ll need to take two ferries to reach the island from the Shetland mainland, but it’s worth the trek for the wild scenery, gin tastings and whisky—yes, they make whisky as well. This is Scotland after all.

Shillingford Estates; Macoucherie, Dominica

No bus driver on the Caribbean island of Dominica (aka Nature Island) knows where to find “Shillingford Estates,” but everyone can point you in the direction of “the sugar factory.” Based out of a defunct sugar factory in the village of Macoucherie, the distillery has been producing rhum agricole since the late 19th century. The small distillery eschews modern equipment in favor of old school methods like a water-powered sugar mill. The resulting rhum (there are four kinds on offer) can be found only on Dominica. Travel to the distillery by bus, or sail straight from the sea and up a shallow river until you reach your destination.

Reyka Distillery; Borgarnes, Iceland

Iceland’s Reyka Distillery is located in the extremely small coastal town of Borgarnes. It is so far removed from larger human population that the region’s carbon dioxide levels have actually dropped over the years. There, the vodka is distilled using raw, untreated water, in a bespoke copper still—the only one of its kind still used to distill vodka today—and filtered through lava rock. To make things even cooler, the distillery is powered by volcanic heat.