Yamazaki 50 Year Old Sets Record Price for a Japanese Whisky

Yamazaki 50YOIf you missed it a bottle of Yamazaki 50 Year Old Single Malt Whisky sold for a record price at Auction on January 30 for US$299,000. The auction was held by Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The previous record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky was also held by a bottle of Yamazaki 50YO sold at auction in October 2016 for US$129,000. After having followed the whisky auction scene for a while I can safely say it if you want absolute top dollar, Hong Kong is the place to sell. It is certainly bolstered by the burgeoning Asian whisky scene. The problem I found however was that when I approached a certain auction house in HK to sell some of my whisky they did not accept consignments from outside of HK. The whisky had to already be in country. Not sure if this is the same for all the auction houses in HK.

When first released in 2011 the bottle price was around US$9,200 which although it looks like a bargain now, lets face it, this was a bottle for the wealthy from the get go.
There were a couple of bars in Japan back in 2011 where you could try this for Yen 90,000 a shot or about US$850.
For years now a number of people on various whisky forums have speculated about the demise of Japanese Whisky. Just a fad, too overpriced(maybe it is but it hasn’t diminished it’s rise) and for a number of narrow minded people if it isn’t made in Scotland it can’t be whisky or at least not good whisky.
Japanese whisky has proved to be resilient on the pricing front and it’s popularity has gone from strength to strength.
*Note: We may have seen some marginal average price drops on bottling’s from the likes of Hanyu and Karuizawa over the last year but this is normal when the number of different bottling’s have increased. Prices of the most prized bottling’s are still on the up.

Ichiro’s Malt Card Series Full Set Of 58 Bottles For Sale At Auction

Ichiro's Malt Card Series
Offered for sale for the first time is a full set of 58 bottles of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series as part of Sotheby’s Hong Kong Finest and Rarest Wine Auction this Friday and Saturday 29-30th of September.
For those who are trying to figure out how a deck of cards is 58 it’s not. Just so happens that back in the day Ichiro Akuto bottled and sold a about a quarter of the whisky from 4 different single casks then later bottled and sold the rest of the whisky from these casks. The casks used became the Ace of Spades, the Queen of Hearts, the King of Diamonds and the Jack of Clubs hence double bottling’s of these cards and the total number in the series as 58.
Price guide for the full set of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series is from a ridiculously low US$256,000 to US$512,000.
As a set of 54 cards without the 4 doubles sold at auction a couple of years ago for US480,000 I personally expect the upper range of the price guide to not only be reached but exceeded.
So if your a wealthy whisky collector here is a rare opportunity, for the rest of us we have a few days to win the lottery.

**Update: Lot sold for US$455,000 so it seems prices have stabilized or even declined a little.

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 18YO and Nikka Limited Edition Whisky

Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017There has been plenty of posts from different websites over the last week or so about the Yamazaki Mizunara Cask 2017 18YO. The basics are 1500 bottles at 48%abv. 200 of the bottles were offered in a lottery by Suntory in Japan only. The winners received their notification 2 days ago though of course it was no freebie. If you won you still had to pay the Japanese price of Yen108,000 or about USD$1000. No doubt the lottery was well oversubscribed. I would suggest that most of the remaining 1300 bottles will be offered to bars. Official release date is the 3rd of October. I have only seen one online retailer advertising this so far and they are already asking US$3300 for a bottle!!!

Anyway moving on from a bottling that will be nothing more than a unicorn for most people to something a little more relevant. Nikka is releasing some Limited Edition No Age Statement bottling’s. There will be Moscatel Wood Finished and Rum Wood Finished versions from both Miyagikyo and Yoichi bottled at 46%abv.Nikka Limited Editions 2017
There will be 3500 bottles of each version. Something I find a little bit odd is that the Moscatel Wood Finished bottling’s will be Japan only releases and the Rum Wood Finished bottling’s will be Europe/US releases. No doubt the Japanese version will be available a little ways down the track on the secondary market either online retailers or auction.

According to the official website the RRP for the Japanese bottling’s is Yen15,000 released on the 26th of September and 2 separate pricing regimes for the Europe/US bottling’s. In Europe they will be offered as the set of 2 at a RRP of Euro395 and in the US as single bottles for US$190 with a release date sometime in November. Europe and Japan bottling’s will be 700ml and the US version 750ml.

Largest Known Collection of Karuizawa Hitting the Auction Block

Whisky Auctioneer, a UK based auction house, has announced an exclusive auction of the largest know collection of Karuzizawa whisky. 290 bottles in total and while nothing like their claim of “includes close to every expression created by the renowned Japanese distillery”, Whiskybase lists 460 expressions, it is still very impressive. The lots include the 1960 pictured. Karuizawa1960.jpg
According to the website the lots are being sold individually and while there may be a record price broken here or there for individual bottling’s, I would have loved to have seen a single lot auction where I’m sure the single lot price would have been smashed for any collection of whisky. Auction kicks off on the 5th of April and runs through to 17th of April. FYI, with the prices of Karuizawa these days I didn’t bother registering to bid : ).

Buying Japanese Whisky in Japan 2017 Report

004Kicking things off early this year. A big thanks to all who posted reports over the last coupe of years especially the regulars. Great work and an invaluable source of reference if the 10’s of thousands of views these posts have received is anything to go by.

I though we’d start off with a report added by Martin 2 days ago in the 2016 post but is from January 2017 .
FYI . . .
In Hakata earlier this month found an Hibiki 21 at Daimaru. Then bought one of them Kurayoshi 18 year old at BIC Camera Hiroshima on a whim (wondering about this one, will taste when back home). Also found, but decided not to buy, an Hibiki 12 YO at a side street retailer. Just today found the last bottle on shelf of Hakushu 18 YO at BIC Camera in Ikebukuro (the bigger one, closer to station). Also bought some miniature Hibiki 17 YO at Seibu in Ikebukuro.

This post is open to anyone who wishes to contribute so keep the reports coming folks and happy hunting in 2017!

Buying Japanese Whisky in Japan 2016 Report

***Please see the 2017 report here for the latest buying reports***
It’s been a year since I wrote the post Buying Japanese Whisky In Japan Nothing But Scorched Earth so time to see if anything as changed. The main reason for the 12 month update is that particular post still generates a huge number of views and the vast majority of emails I receive are from people travelling to Japan and asking where to by whisky. This new post is based on my experience travelling to Tokyo early last month.

If anything has changed it may be that things are even more bleak than last year. The situation where large groups travelling from other countries in Asia especially China on organised shopping tours pillaging all the limited release and age statement Japanese whiskies is now virtually non existent. The reason being is there is almost none of that stuff left to buy anyway.

Whether it be large liquor retailers such as Liquors Hasegawa, Shinanoya, the liquor section of department stores like Isetan or Takeshimaya or the local 7 Eleven the main offerings are pretty much the same. You’re looking at no age statement blends from Suntory, Nikka, Kirin, Mars and Akashi, no age statement single malts from Nikka and Suntory, Nikka The Blend 12YO, Nikka Coffey Grain and Coffey Malt, Taketsuru NAS, Hibiki Harmony. There is quite a lot mini bottles of Yamazaki 12 around. Isetan still had some of their in house only Mars Tsunagu Blend available. Liquors Hasegawa had some Yamazaki LE 2015 but as they sold out everywhere else last year the price was at a premium of Y22,000. You can buy something like Yamazaki 18YO Narita Airport amongst the very limited number of offering’s available there but it’s still the travel exclusive bottling with the fancy label for Y50000.
If you do go to Liquors Hasegawa it may be worthwhile asking if they have anything interesting not on the shelves, I know they had some but again be prepared to pay a decent premium above the original retail price. Shinanoya had some Hakushu 12YO. It is always worth while checking out any of these places as you may be lucky, well very lucky, to be there on a day when one of their in in house bottling’s becomes available. That’s if they haven’t all pre sold before they hit the shelves. I was lucky enough to grab the one bottle of Hakushu 18YO left on the shelf at Shinanoya Kabukicho branch, how that lasted I have no idea but of course even at Y24000 I didn’t hesitate. A bottle of Chichibu On The Way from Liquors Hasegawa for about the original retail price of Y9,500 and a bottle of Kirin Small Batch 18 YO Blend for Y26000 at a small liquor store in the vicinity of Hakoneyumoto Station. The latter two where also last bottles left. Yamazaki distillery had a dozen bottle of Hibiki 12 and their 300ml No age statement Single Malt available to buy but by the end of my 1 hour tour and a few whiskies at the bar they were all sold out. So you may walk into any liquor store and fluke an interesting bottle but they are not available on mass all of the time.
I was discussing the Japanese Whisky scene with the manager of Liquors Hasegawa and he mentioned that only three years ago they were lucky to sell 12 bottles of Japanese Whisky a month.

In relation to bars I only went to a few, you can still try the Yoichi age statement range at least up to the 15 year old, Takestsuru 17 and 21, Hakushu 12 and 18YO and the same from Yamazaki, also Hibki 12,17 and 21 year olds. The famous Zoetrope still has a lot of different bottling’s but you can forget about anything from Karuizawa or Hanyu Card Series. In fact I think there was only a few Hanyu left to try at Zoetrope and a very limited range of single casks from Yoichi, Yamazaki, Hakushu, Akashi and Mars. Yamazaki distillery(took a day trip with some family) is still a good place to try single cask component malts at very reasonable prices. I tasted one dram each of cask strength Heavily Peated, Sherry and Mizunara casks for Y2500 in total.

So what will happen moving forward. Not much in the short to medium term, say three to 8 years. It’s true that the big players such as Nikka and Suntory have ramped up production but when this will bear fruit in regards to age statement whiskies is anyone’s guess but I’d say maybe 5-6 years. There were quite a number of new bottling’s from Chichibu over the last 12 months but unfortunately many of these are single cask single malts or single class blends that sell out very quickly in Japan. Mars released a few new bottling’s but again most sell out quickly in Japan, same with Akashi. Good for those smaller output distilleries but not of much use to most Japanese whisky enthusiasts. Yamazaki LE 2016 was released last month and pretty much sold out straight away. Horigami-san owner of Zoetrope bar told there are three new distilleries coming on line this year. That’s great but they will not make any impact for at least 3 years when they can be classified as whisky and even then will they just be three new versions of Chichibu. That is to say, smallish production runs that sell out very quickly if they are good quality and hardly if at all impact the amount of Japanese whiskies available outside of Japan. In the meanwhile prices for no longer available at retail bottling’s of Japanese whisky will remain high due to supply and Japan. Still lenty available on the auction circuit for those with deep pockets. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, but at them moment it’s a long tunnel and the light is fairly dim.

Japanese Whisky World Record Auction Prices August 2015

Karuizawa1960.jpgTonight at Bonham’s Auction Hong Kong a world record price was achieved for a single bottle of Japanese whisky. The bottling, a Karuizawa 1960 52YO Cask #5627 one of 41 bottles. Price with buyers premium was approximately US118,000, Euro105,000, GBP77,000. Original Price was GBP12,500 back in 2013. Also as reported in a recent post, an almost complete collection of Ichiro’s Card series was up for sale. This lot sold with buyers premium for approximately USD490,000, Euro436,000, GBP319,000. Obviously this is also a record for a single combined lot of Japanese whisky. I reckon that they would have cost no more than around USD10,000 if you were lucky to buy them all at retail prices. Share markets in turmoil…… seems at least for now we have a new ‘investment’ winner, or like gold, a bulwark during hard economic times?

Ichiro’s Malt Card Series – (Almost) Complete Series For Sale

ichiros-malt-cardsWell the catalogue is out for Bonham’s Hong Kong auction on August the 28th 2015. Masses of Japanese whisky on offer but the highlight would have to be an entire Ichiro’s Malt Card Series being sold as one lot. I say entire but to my mind the collection is not complete. There were 2 bottling’s of the Ace of Spades and this collection has only one of them. Yes they were from the same cask but the release was staggered, one bottling being 55%abv and one being 55.7%abv. Obviously this also means one spent a little longer in the cask so is a bit older in whisky terms and as it was aged in oak the profile will be slightly different. Also I believe the auction catalogue for the bottling of the Ace of Spades being sold contains an error. They say it is the bottling 113 of 300 but this should have an ABV of 55.7% not the 55% listed in the catalogue. The first series of 122 bottles(in total) was the 55% version.
The catalogue estimate, HK$ 1.8 million – 2.4 million = USD$232,000 – $310,000
Gulp, not to shabby for a collection of whiskies that if you paid retail would not have cost more than USD10,000 in total. The cheapest bottling was about 60 bucks and I paid about 350 bucks for the most expensive, the Joker Monochrome. Also hard to believe is that this upswing in value happened in less than 10 years.

***Note: I have already been updated and I apologize for any discrepancies in my original post but the are 4 double cards in the series. Ultimately this extends to the fact that the series for sale is not complete. Thanks to Ulf Buxrud for the clarification.
Ichiro’s Malt Full Card Series

Japanese Whisky Retail Downunder

A few weeks back Australia’s largest discount retail liquor chain Dan Murphy’s added a few more bottles of Japanese whisky to their shelves. Previously they had a ‘massive’ 3 bottle selection, Yamazaki 12, Nikka Taketsuru 12 and Nikka From the Barrel. New arrival’s are Hibiki 12 and 17, Hakushu 12 and the NAS version of Yamazaki and Hakushu single malts with the marketing moniker of ‘Distiller’s Reserve’. Prices in Australian dollars at the time or writing are as follows. Only the individual can decide if they find these good value.
Nikka WFTB $66.90
Nikka Taketsuru $99.99
Yamazaki NAS Distiller’s Reserve $79.99
Hakushu NAS Distiller’s Reserve $79.99
Yamazaki 12YO $96.99
Hakushu 12YO $109.99
Hibiki 12YO $109.99
Hibiki 17YO $149.99
For anyone travelling to Australia that has a hankering for bottle of Japanese whisky, Dan Murphy’s has around 200 stores Australia wide.

Ichiro’s Malt the Joker – In the Flesh!


Well in the flesh at Casa Dramtastic. Most readers would have seen some release images of these. I’ll go out on a limb and say this is the first time both of these have been shown to the general public by someone who now owns them. No need to go into any of the particulars of these bottling’s as you can read about that over at Whiskies R Us. My thoughts are around what it’s like to finally have these babies in my grateful hands.
First thing, is that I had my order in for over a year. Of course I didn’t now when the release would be but I knew I had to be ahead of the game to even have a chance. Nothing is set in stone either, some retailers will/have received an allocation, many won’t. I was lucky enough to be in contact with someone who did and who generously kept me in mind for one of each label. For me this is going to be hard to beat for Japanese whisky release of the year for a number of reasons. It is, as far as I know, the end of the Ichiro’s card series. No more cards or derivatives of playing card games up Akuto-sans sleeve so to speak. Also, the black and white labeled bottling of the Joker is now officially the oldest Hanyu released to date and the fact that it was finished in a Mizunara oak cask at that. No doubt a deliberate choice for a whisky of such significance. Finally, the colour label version of the Joker would seem to be the most ambitious vatting of different cask types of Hanyu yet.
In the photo, the whisky in the B&W Joker looks darker. This is not a trick of the light or angle of the photo, it is darker than the colour Joker. Could be because the colour Joker has some younger whisky in the mix, could be it’s a vatting of different cask types, could be a combination of both or none of the above. They both sure look tasty!
Now for the problem. The colour Joker I purchased for Y12777. In under a week these were already selling in Japan on the resale market for 5 times that price. I have not seen a bottle of the B&W Joker being resold yet, but heaven only knows what they will fetch when they do. That then put these in the, I can only dream of owning one these category for most whisky fans. Supply and demand can be a real bitch sometimes!
So, what am I going to do with mine? Stare at them un-opened for a while for a starters. The B&W will then be put away with the rest of my closed bottles. It’s such a wonderful piece of history that it will be a long time before it is opened. The colour label Joker, I guess I’ll crack that on a whim someday…….

Japanese Whisky – More End of Year Releases

Although I wouldn’t exactly call it a flurry, we can add 2 more end of year releases to the 3 newbies from Mars I wrote about in a recent post. One is from the tiny White Oak(Akashi) Distillery, the other from the still small but far better know Chichibu Distillery. The Akashi is a 5 year old sherry cask number, with an ABV of 50% in their usual 500ml bottle. Price about Y3150 depending on the retailer. The Chichibu labeled On The Way, has an ABV of 58% and is a vatting of mizunara and bourbon casks. Price, around Y8000. I’m not aware that either have hit the shelves already, but I’ve pre ordered 2 bottles of the Chichibu just to be on the safe side.

Japanese Whisky – New Releases – Good News/Bad News

I wrote a little while back about the dearth of new releases of Japanese whisky in last half of this year. Well, apart from all those Karuizawa that have been ‘dropped’ by the cartel in selected markets at monster prices, yawn……………!
Anyway, rumor had it a while back that our friends at Mars Shinshu would release some bottling’s late 2013. Oh, you didn’t hear the rumors, sorry about that. Guess, what? One has ‘hit’, and I believe sold out already, Mars Komagatake 1988/2013 #555 46/700 18800yen with two more to follow that I know of: Komagatake 1988/2013 #569 sherry 59/750 21000yen and Komagatake 1989/2013 #619 american oak 59/750 18900yen. Prices may vary depending on the retailer. Now that is both exiting and worth celebrating. Hmmmm, except for the bad news. If your not in Japan you are unlikely to buy them or maybe even see them. TJWR, however, has managed to secure one or more bottles of all of these and will post some tasting notes at a later date. Friends in Japan, if you have a close relationship with your local liquor retailer, do your best to secure a bottle of two before they all sell out.

Japanese Whisky – Not much happening at the moment……

Hi all,
There seemed to be a bit of a flurry earlier on this year in regards to new releases of Japanese Whisky. Probably had something to do with TIBS/Whisky Live Tokyo being held in April. Sure there has been some Karuizawa, but nothing new in that. Well except for the prices going up as fast as an rocket on the resale market once the initial offer has sold out. There is a couple of not particularly inspiring bottling’s coming up as per Whiskiesrus latest posts.
Let’s hope there is something juicy in the pipeline from any or all of the Japanese distilleries before years end. Rumors have included new stuff from Chichibu and Mars Shinshu.
On a personal front I have managed pick up some rare Kirin bottling’s over the last couple of months. Not only are some of these Kirin very good whisky, but relative bargains considering how few there are for sale.

Japanese Whisky in the Press – Honestly, who throws a shoe….

Every now and again I troll the pages of Google looking for news about Japanese whisky. One of those occasions was this evening when I came across an article in the almost famous/infamous Huffington post.
Now apparently the article was written, at least in part, with commentary from Suntory brand ambassador and again I assume ambassador to the US, Neyah White.
Talk about perpetuating nonsense. Well, not all of it, but certainly some sterotypical artistic marketing license is used to be sure.
So, please let me quote some of the most annoying, lets say cloying to add a term often used in tasting notes, stereotypes and misdirection’s(from reality) to highlight.
“Hibiki 12, which White described as “the most Japanese” of the product line,” Huh, seriously, the whole product line from Suntory!!. It is at best a good blend and like all blends compromises on a heavily defined set of tasting values, a la single malt, in favor of appealing to as many easy going palates as possible. Yes I know that many single malt drinkers rate it highly, but as far as I can tell only those who have a limited option of Japanese whisky to buy/try in their home market.
Furthermore, “is a blended whisky that ends up taking on many of the best characteristics of both of the single malts in one glass”. This tastes nothing like a Yamazaki single malt or a Hakusuhu single malt, which are very singular in their focus and profile indeed. As Suntory blends are more ‘grainy’ than many a Nikka blend, there is as much or more influence from grain whisky from Suntory’s Chita grain distillery than there is from the Yama and Hak malts in the blend.
Moving on, “As White explained, “In Japan, you just don’t drink without eating. It isn’t done.” This means that whisky-drinking occasions in Japan tend to last longer, but it also means that the whisky has to be able to complement a wide variety of foods. White compares the flavor profile of Suntory’s whiskies to a bento box, “as you go around to each compartment, you hit all the flavor receptors on your tongue.” It’s this flexibility in the whiskies that often causes people to describe them as “light” and “easy to drink.” They simply taste good with everything else.
That one deserves a double huh. Maybe he has never been to a bar in Japan. Or maybe, he thinks a bowl of nuts or other nibbles is a wide variety of foods. Maybe Mr White has never tasted a single cask Japanese whisky. The type of whisky that one would spend 20 minutes just nosing and even a newbie wouldn’t consider combining food with. No, in Japan there is a very sophisticated whisky market and there has been for at least 30 years. What was true in the early days of Suntory, when the average Japanese palate was only coming to terms with whisky as a beverage has not held true for years. Yes, there is a big market for highballs as a refreshing alternative to beer, but this has no relation to the Suntory single malts and blends that have been released or being released in the States.
Next cab off the rank, and I believe this one is from the journalist writing up the story, “Our favorite of the line is definitely the Yamazaki 12. It has the robust butteriness of our favorite bourbons, the gentle smokiness of an easy-drinking Scotch and just a hint of the bright astringency of our favorite Irish whiskies” Gotta love that the gentle smokiness???? Maybe she was thinking of Hakushu. Have the feeling though the author has never tried a Japanese whisky in her life…..

In summary, after at least a half a dozen years of Japanese whisky appreciation at the more sophisticated end of the market in many countries around the world, it would seem the main stream press continues to portrait Japanese whisky as a quant, novel curiosity and they still can’t be bothered to scratch any further that skin deep. It also seems that at least one of Suntory’s brand ambassadors is happy to oblige.

P.s For readers who miss the reference in the title of this post, it comes from one of the Austin Powers movie and denotes something that is quite silly. I would also like to point out that the post was not meant to be a singular dig at only one media article/outlet, but reflects my opinion on just about every story on Japanese whisky I read online from the regular press.

Nikka Hits Australian Shores

Wondering through my local discount liquor store and noticed a product label sitting next to the only Japanese whisky currently available at a chain retail store in Australia, Yamazaki 12. No product lined up behind the label, but on closer inspection in was for Nikka Whisky From The Barrel. A quick peruse of their website when I arrived home confirmed that it is ‘coming soon’. Also listed as coming soon was Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 12.
Now as for prices, AUD$70 for the WFTB and $100 for the Takesturu 12. A rip off for sure, but as we in Australia are ripped off at every turn when it comes to liquor prices, I think the Tak 12 retails for about US$45 in the States, par for the course. Probably won’t bother buying any as I can get them a lot cheaper from Japan. Still, I wish Nikka all the best. If you are keen, you can find them here.

Japanese Whisky- More Auction Crazyness!

Many readers would have seen the report last month on the Bonhams Hong Kong Auction for fine and rare wines, cognacs and single malts, particularly in regards to the prices fetched for Japanese whisky. I read about it on Whiskies R Us at the time. Well a comment from a JWR reader attached to my post on the bottle of Ichiro’s Malt Ace of Clubs that sold for Euro605 on Whiskyauction, prompted me to dig a little deeper. So over to the Bonhams website to check out the individual prices on the various lots from this auction back on the 23 of May.
Now I have readers from over 80 countries and of those Hong Kong is in the top 5 for views. I would assume that other blogs about Japanese whisky would also have a very high readership from Hong Kong also. So, these good people from Hong Kong, and I’ve met a few, are enthusiastic and knowledgeable Japanese whisky fans. These whisky enthusiasts have a number of ways to source Japanese whisky, including from Japan itself. So who in Hong Kong decided to pay these sky high prices for whiskies that they could have bought a lot cheaper by other means? This was not just the case for Japanese whisky at this particular auction, but as far as I could tell, for many a Scottish whisky as well.
One of the examples used in the original article about this auction, was for 4 bottles of the last release of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series sold as one lot. This lot sold for $2914. When these were released earlier this year they could be had for about $450 for the set. We are talking more than 6 times the original price. There was a number of posts on Japanese whisky blogs about this release, so a reasonable time to get ready to buy if you were keen. Heck, it’s only a 4 hour flight from HK to Tokyo under 4 hours to Osaka. Against that auction price you could flown over to Japan for a couple of nights to pick them up and still saved yourself a huge chunk of dough. Even recently, The Whisky Exchange had the four of them for a sale at a retail price I think no more than around $850. Sure it was only a small allocation but if you were moderately switched on you could have bought them for that price plus delivery. Yes, TWE does ship to HK.
The next example I will use from the auction is a couple of Suntory whiskies sold as a single lot. The lot consisted of a bottle of Suntory Royal No Age Statement and a bottle of Suntory Signature Blend No Age statement. Both bottles had very low fill levels. This lot sold for the scarcely believable sum of $1687. You could buy these in Japan for about $150 for the pair and only because the Signature Blend sells for a decent price. The Suntory Royal that was sold as part of this lot can be bought any day of the week in Japan for about $10-15.
We can all make up our own minds if some of the prices paid at this auction were just a tad cuckoo. There is a saying however, about some people having more money than sense………..
Here is the link to the full list of items and their sale price.

New Release – White Oak(Akashi) 15 Year Old 58%abv



Japanese Konara Oak Tree

The little White Oak Distillery has released it’s oldest expression yet. A 15 year old single malt that spent 12.5 years in Spanish Oak Sherry Casks then 2.5 years in Japanese Konara(Quercus Serrata) Oak Casks. Of course you are all familiar with Konara Oak aren’t you? Yeh thought not, me either. This is the first time that I know of, that this type of Japanese Oak Cask has been used to mature whisky. That fact alone makes this particular bottling a fascinating proposition.
Priced at Y10500 for a 500ml bottled and with an outrun of 795 bottles. I’m also glad to see that White Oak is sticking to it’s guns with their single cask releases and botting this one Non Chilled Filtered and No Artificial Coloring.
There seems to be a very small allocation for each of the retailers in Japan that stock this whisky, so if you see it and your keen on a bottle, they who hesitate most likely will miss out.

Mars Iwai Tradition Wine Cask Finish 40%


I previously mentioned this bottling during my TIBS/WhiskyLive Tokyo 2013 report. Well it’s hit the retail shelves in Japan with an outrun of 2495 bottles finished in ex-red wine casks for about 12 months. Price is Y2310 for a 750ml bottle. For those not familiar with the history, Mars parent company Hombo Shuzo has been producing a variety of wines in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan for around 50 years. This was the 3rd bottling I tasted at the Hombo Shuzo(Mars) stand at the show. The first 2 were the “Komagatake” 22YO and the “Komagatake” Bourbon Barrel 24YO. After those two, the thought of being knocked out by a 40%abv blended whisky with no age statement finished in a wine cask seemed highly unlikely. Well I was knocked out by the quality of this whisky for the price and so was everyone else I talked to that tried it. Ok, it was only a single dram so it will not be until my bottles arrived that I can confirm, but initial impressions were that this will be right up there with the best value, quality daily drams anywhere in the world. Hmmm, I think I should buy a few more……….

Mars Iwai Tradition Blended Whisky 720ml 40% – Something New, Something Old


Hombo Shuzo(Mars Whisky), release of new bottling’s continues this week. Well, in the case of this particular bottling it’s a repackaging and with Mars now receiving some well deserved exposure both domestically and internationally and a wider retail distribution(in Japan), more good news for the vibrancy of the Japanese whisky scene. The Awai Tradition is a malt and grain blend and a nice one at that. Retail price Y1850 for a 720ml bottle. There are still some of the old bottle style stock being sold side by side, same price, same bottle size. Here’s my review of the original bottle style which also won a IWSC Silver Medal in 2012.

Mars Iwai Tradition 720ml 40%abv.
Nose: Thick Manuka honey. Soft oak, sweet orange peel, dry sherry and toffee.
Palate: Manuka honey, raisins, all spice, dry sherry, toffee and a little smoke. Mouth coating.
Finish: Short on honey, toffee, oak, butter, sherry and gentle spices. Errs on the side of malt rather than grain.
Last Word: A great session whisky, I’ve already polished off 3 bottles.

Rating: 82/100