Sandwiched between Japan’s soaring Southern Alps and the towering Central Alps, at just over 2,600 feet, Mars Shinshu is Japan’s highest whisky distillery. The Hombo family have been distilling for more than a century and they added whisky to their repertoire in 1949. Back then the distillery was located in Kagoshima Prefecture on the southern most island of Kyushu. Until 1984, it was the southernmost whisky made in Japan, which ended with the Hombo clan moving the distillery to the idyllic alpine setting of Miyada village in southern Nagano Prefecture. They chose this site for its cool temps, which slowed maturation, and the plentiful, soft, granite filtered snowmelt fed aquifers. Smart choice. The whiskies are elegant, smooth and very complex.