Buying Japanese Whisky in Japan 2018 Report

In the 2017 there were 428 comments by contributors for the Buying Japanese Whisky in Japan Report thread. A mighty effort especially from a small number of very active posters. My personal thanks to those guys.
In 2017 there were also 22,500 views of this thread so be in no doubt this post and the advice given is greatly valued by readers of TJWR. I should add that there were 12,000 views of the 2016 report during that 2017 as well.
So to our regular contributors and anyone else who wants to jump on board, I look forward to reading about your experiences of buying Japanese Whisky in Japan 2018!

Kampai

Brian AKA Dramtastic

24 thoughts on “Buying Japanese Whisky in Japan 2018 Report

  1. Gents, now back in Oz. My last day in Japan was New Years Day. At Tokyu Hands in Ikebukuro there were many miniature Aged Statements of Hibiki 17 (5 bottles which I purchased all @ ¥915, miniatures make a good gift imho); Hakushu 12 @ ¥795 (maybe 6 bottles, I only bought 1); and Yamasaki 12 @ ¥730 (again maybe 6 bottles, I only bought 1).
    I was 200ml over the allowance on return and declared and explained on re-entry and just got waved through.
    All the best for the new year!
    Cheers, Martin

    • Welcome home!
      Not Japan, but I was in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for 4 nights from Boxing Day. They have opened an Isetan in the Bukit Bintang(basically the biggest tourist area in KL). They had about 10 different bottling’s of Japanese Whisky mainly Suntory and a couple of Nikka. The price however was something else. I can’t remember them off by heart but you’re looking at 3-6 times more than what you would pay in Japan. It could have even been more but after a quick glance and a calculation of price conversion from Malaysian Ringit I did not bother even contemplating a purchase. Even Australia is cheaper and that is saying something!

  2. Happy New Year! Akemashite omodetto gozaimasu!
    Went to downtown Fukuoka today. All the shops were out of everything, except Yamaya, where I found a Hibiki 21 for 29,800 yen, no tax.

    2 days ago in Omuta, which is 1hr away from downtown Fukuoka by rail, I found another Akashi 10yr old sherry butt for 14,00 yen. Plus some rare bourbon and scotch finds.
    Omuta is a great place to go if you miss out on the release of something.

  3. Don’t know if this was a good luck, or supply has finally gone out on the Yama 18, but I went to Drug Store Mori, in Fukuoka, this evening to pick up some odds and ends there was a Yama 18, in the liquor display case for 25,000 yen. Of course I grabbed it. I’ve been to this shop several times in the last 2 weeks and the most high end Japanese whisky they had was the Nikka blended 12. So it was quite a surprise. I hope supplies do come back on the 18. It’s been very scarce here for the past year.

    • Great score!
      I’d add for readers that aren’t aware, Yama 18 even when it was readily available in Japan sold in most places for Y20,000 so Y25,000 is a excellent considering it’s current scarcity.
      Overall Suntory seems to have done better than Nikka at managing there stock. In Australia Yamazaki and Hakushu 12 are both available and have been for at least 12 months. Yes they were available before that but there was a gap of at least a year prior where no stock was allocated to Australia. You can also buy Yama 18, Hibiki 17 and 21 though at sky high prices.

      • Just a follow up. Went to 5 other Mori Drug Stores in the general vicinity and none of them had the Yama 18.

        So I am guessing this was something they had in the back that they forgot about and found again to put out when I happened to visit that particular store.

        Still happy to have found it.

  4. Just arrived in Tokyo. Found a new small Liquor shop in Azabu Jyuban between 1/2 block down from the Season Ishii and Starbucks (not far from Sarashina horii). Mostly Sake, They didn’t have much of anything with one exception, 3 bottles of the Blackadder Eigashima 3.4 year release, Olorosso Sherry Butt cask #101474, 61.5 ABV. An 847 bottle release. I picked up 1 for 11,000 yen. There’s 2 still left if anyone wants one. I picked up the previous Blackadder release which was quite good for a 3 year. It was only 6,900 yen back then though. So hopefully this one will be as enjoyable.

    If you are in Tokyo and interested in it, there’s 2 left.

    • This Black Adder release as well as an Asta Morris Eigashima 5yr first fill bourbon barrel release at about ¥12,500 can also be found online, but they sure are pricey for such a young age.

    • Went to Shinanoya Setagaya Daita today, found a few more of the Eigashima Blackadder for 9,200 yen, so I grabbed bottle #123 (there were a couple more when I left). Also found the Asta Morris 5yr, for about 11,000 yen. I picked up the last one.
      Also found a White Oak Whisky mixed with ume liqueur for 1100 yen. Picked it up as a curiosity.

      • Probably my last post of this trip, as I head home tomorrow. Went to Shinanoya Ginza this evening. They had several bottles of the Eigashima Blackadder and Asta Morris. Didn’t pick up either. However I did pick up 2 more bottles of the Mars Yakushima Aging for 9,000 yen each. Sorry guys, forgive me, they were the only 2 bottles on the shelf.

        I have to say, it was a pretty productive trip this time. I’m hopeful that 2018 will be plentiful in Japanese whisky for us all.

        • I was literally there like an hour ago and grabbed one each of the Eigashimas despite my complaints above about price.

          Second time now someone posting on this site has grabbed the last Mars Yakushima Aging right before I went to the same shop… I hope it’s good!

          • Sorry man, I would have liked to have met you. Even for a few minutes. Don’t get many chances to meet fellow Japanese whisky enthusiasts. Maybe next time?

            At least the Eigashimas aren’t a bad consolation prize. Yes they’re more expensive than the regular bottles, but not as crazy as the department store versions.
            You might want to check some of the other Shinanoyas. I never went to the Shibuya shop. They usually get a lot of the same. Also maybe the Setagaya Daita shop hadn’t put it out yet when I visited.

        • (Not able to reply to you below, presumably because it’s too many levels of replies)

          No worries on the Yakushima Aging. I likely would have done the same in your shoes. I just found it funny that the same thing happened twice now for the same release. Anyway, I live here so I have a lot more opportunities than those visiting; I shouldn’t complain. 🙂

          • I’ve opened my bottle of the Mars and it’s a very hot whisky that needs a ton of water so depending on your tastes you may have been saved 🙂

    • I opened the Black Adder last night and had a largish pour. As you’d expect with a 3.x year cask strength it had a fair amount of burn. But the more than 3 years in the oloroso barrel has given it quite a lot of flavor and color.

      I imagine most people would want to add water or at least ice. I added a few drops of water about half way through which seemed to mellow it a decent amount and reveal some sweeter flavors, but it’s also possible my tongue was a bit numbed by then. 🙂

      Overall a decent dram but no match for the similarly priced Akashi 8yr old sherry butt #188 I’ve been working on recently.

  5. Went to Shinjuku today. Check out BIC Camera store and saw about 20 bottles of Hibiki miniture for Y900 after tax. Grab 5 of them. Went to Isentan tasted the Akashi Chardonnay Cask but did not like it much. To me it is a bit too young. A lot of heat!!! Then went to Shinanoya but nothing special there. About to give up and thought why not go to Odakyu since it is not that far. Went to B2 food market where I scored a Ichiro Double Distillers before. Saw few bottles of Ichiro Malt/Grain but nothing special from the shelves in the back. Turned around went to their registers. Saw a bottle of Hibiki 21 for Y27000!! I blinked for a few seconds to make sure I see it right… Yup Hibiki 21. Grabbed the only one on that table. Man I guess I lucked out!!! Once I grabbed it they took the price tag off and stock some sake. Super happy!!! Good scores today for sure!!! Liquid golds are out there!! Best of luck everyone!!!

  6. A new Liquor Mountain store opened in Ginza 777 last Thursday. It’s probably twice as big as the biggest Liquor Mountain I’ve been to (Shinjuku) and a lot of the bottles can be tasted like at Liquors Hasegawa, though the ones I checked all cost ¥300. They also were selling 50ml sample bottles that looked like they had been filled by the shop’s employees, and the markup wasn’t too terrible on what I checked (¥1600 for 50ml of Akashi 10yr old sherry, which is ¥14000 for a 500ml bottle).

    I went yesterday for the first time and it definitely feels like they stocked up for their grand opening, but the Japanese shelf was looking picked over at this point. They had two of the above mentioned 10yr Akashi, and two Akashi 8yr old sherry butt for ¥10,000 (I already have a couple of these and have been enjoying it). They also had 4 or 5 Taketsuru 17s at a ridiculous ¥19,800 or so, plus various other less interesting bottles. I’ll be curious to see how their stock looks as time goes on, as it definitely feels like they’re targeting the more upscale / tourist market, including a floor to ceiling glass case with rare old bottles with corresponding price tags.

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