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Have you ever wondered what the most expensive Japanese whiskies were? We’ve compiled a list of the most pricey ones here, so get ready to make your jaw drop with these mind-blowing prices! But trust us – they’re well worth the investment.
As the first edition of Suntory’s Yamazaki 50-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky, this record-breaking spirit recently made a legendary Guinness World Record by being sold for the highest price ever bidded on a single standard-sized whisky bottle (winning bid: Over $129,000 or more than a million Hong Kong dollars). This whisky is indeed one of the rarest from Suntory’s collection.
Aged for 50 years in mizunara or Japanese oak casks, this exquisite, silky whisky is rich with history and unique liquor flavor. With just 50 bottles released, this 50-year-old single malt from Yamazaki Distillery is a treasure trove of liquor goodness that whisky enthusiasts and collectors will enjoy having in their possession.
(See “Yamazaki Breaks World Record At Auction” blog post to read about the highest price ever paid at an auction for standard-sized bottle of whisky.)
As part of the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky collection, the Yamazaki 2007 Release is the second edition of this luxurious Suntory whisky. This 2007 Release, just like the 2005 Edition, had only 50 bottles, making this another rare whisky treasure. Containing whiskies that are at least 50 years old, this bottle a half-century’s worth of Suntory history. Matured in Japanese oak, this sophisticated spirit has a deep, rich flavor and aroma that is unique to this type of oak cask; it’s not any taste or fragrance you can find in scotch whisky!
The most recent edition of the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky is the 2011 Release. Just like the previous editions of this Suntory whisky, the whiskies in this bottle have been aged for at least 50 years, giving you a complex and deep flavor profile. With every sip, you get a dose of Suntory’s whisky history. Sweet tasting with hints of Japanese oak aromas and flavors such as aloe wood and finishing off with a faint smoky note, this refined and rare whisky deserves a top spot on our list.
Karuizawa is a closed distillery, but its legendary whisky lines are still available for collectors and whisky lovers to invest in. This Ghost Series specifically features seven glorious bottles of whiskies. Each bottle displays beautiful, whimsical Japanese woodblock print artwork from Yoshitoshi’s “New Forms of 36 Ghosts” that represents a variety of characters from Japanese folklore and tales.
Some of these bottles were even used for great charities; for example, the 4 Decades is a charity whisky and proceeds went to two of Japan’s most renowned children’s charities: Carillon Kodomo Center (a shelter for children who have been abused or neglected) and Shine On! Kids (a charity that provides aid to children with cancer and other serious illnesses). Here’s a breakdown of each bottle included in this set (ordered according to image provided):
- #1: Seigen’s Ghost Haunts Sakurahime
- Distilled in 2000, bottled in 2014
- #2: The Enlightenment of Jigokudayu (“Phantom Lady” or “Lady Hell”)
- Distilled in 1996, bottled in 2013
- #3: Kintaro Observes the Giant Carp
- Distilled in Chichibu (no date), bottled in 2016
- #4: The Ghost of Taira no Tomomori Appears at Daimotsu Bay
- Distilled in 1970s, bottled in 2015
- #5: Kiyohime Changes into a Serpent at Hidaka River
- Distilled in 1995, bottled in 2013
- #6: The Happy Tea Kettle of Morin Temple
- Distilled in 1980, bottled in 2014
- #7: Oiwa and the Sash Serpent
- Distilled between 1960 to 2000, bottled in 2014
A stunning, rare Suntory whisky from the Yamazaki Distillery! This 50-year-old single-malt whisky is a lovely amber-colored liquor that was matured for at least five decades before being released, making it one of the oldest and rarest whiskies around. This whisky has been aged in Japanese oak, also known as mizunara, which makes it even more of a delicacy in the whisky world.
Get two extremely rare bottles in one with this set! Karuizawa yet again presents two limited edition whiskies that are nearly worth $100,000 together. These two bottles are only one of approximately 260 released in the world, and the number will only dwindle since Karuizawa Distillery has since shut down.
One bottle has been aged for 48 years while the second bottle has aged for 50 years, making them two of the oldest bottles of whiskies available. Both are single-cask whiskies from the distillery, which means that it has not been blended with whiskies from other barrels.
Each cask has its own unique flavor, even after every reuse, so this set is a truly special pair of whisky bottles that you won’t be able to get your hands on anymore after the stock is all gone.
You can learn more about Karuizawa here.
Here’s another exceptional collection from Karuizawa. Karuizawa was known to have unique and traditional Japanese artwork on whisky bottles, and this collection features samurai warriors on each. A colorful and artistic set filled with delicious single-malt whiskies that you won’t be able to get anywhere else! Collectors and whisky fans will love sampling each bottle from this set. Dekanta provides a rack with all 10 bottles from this series.
Here’s a 3-bottle set from Karuizawa’s Samurai Series that has a price of $31,999.99: https://dekanta.com/store/karuizawa-samurai-set-198019811982/
Although this wasn’t aged for a century, this 40-year-old whisky from Suntory’s Yamazaki was released as a single-malt, single-cask whisky to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary. The liquid is stored inside a crystal decanter that was handmade by expert craftsmen from the Kagami Crystal Company. With this whisky, you also receive a drinking glass, crystal stopper, and a wooden box made from the oak that was used to mature the whisky.
Representing the beautiful, mysterious geisha that once roamed and danced in Japan, the Karuizawa Geisha Whisky Bottle Set is another exquisite display of Japanese artwork meets Japanese luxury liquor. Karuizawa was known for producing high-quality whisky and labeling bottles with timeless Japanese masterpieces. This set features single-malt whiskies in delicate bottles for you to sample. The Geisha Set makes a wonderful gift to whisky lovers or a fantastic addition to your collection.
Other Geisha whisky bottles from Karuizawa and offered here at Dekanta:
- Karuizawa 2000 Geisha Cask #7721 – $4,199.99
- Karuizawa 2000 Geisha Cask #2339 – $4,199.99
- Karuizawa 1990 Geisha Bottle Sherry Cask – $6,799.99
- Karuizawa 1984 Geisha Label – $6,899.99
- Karuizawa 1980 35-Year-Old Geisha Label – $12,399.99
- Karuizawa 1971 41-Year-Old Geisha Label #7267 – $10,199.99
- Karuizawa 1970 Geisha Label #6227 42-Year-Old – $9,149.99
As one of just 200 bottles released, the Yamazaki 35-Year-Old Whisky is another pride and joy from Suntory. Perfectly collectible, this bottle holds a unique spirit that matured for over three decades in Spanish oak sherry butt casks.
Fruity, sweet, and delectable – significant traits that describe the Karuizawa 1981 Sakura Cask #158! As one of 45 bottles ever released, this ultra-rare whisky exhibits the famous sakura or cherry blossom flowers that blooms during the spring in Japan. This bottle holds culture, history, and divine whisky all in one and makes an extraordinary addition to your collection.
The Karuizawa Tokyo Bar Show 1981-1984 set was a commemorative collection that the distillery bottled for the Tokyo International Bar Show, a multi-day event that showcases a wide variety of alcoholic drinks such as whiskies and cocktails. As Karuizawa was famous for, the bottles each have a one-of-a-kind image of a bartender mixing up drinks, just like the participants of the Tokyo International Bar Show.
As a national sport in Japan, Sumo is a traditional wrestling and martial arts sport. You’ll find that some distilleries emphasize Japanese culture through their whiskies, which is what Karuizawa has done with the Honor Sumo Triplet Set. Featuring the art of Ukiyo-e artist, Hachisuka Kuniaki, this 3-bottle set splits the original image into three labels and creates a full picture when all bottles are placed next to each other in order. This type of artwork shares the culture and history of Japan. With this set, you get more than rare, delicious whisky from the silent distillery, Karuizawa.
As one of just 313 bottles for each year, the Karuizawa Fight Club Collection 1986-1988 is another exquisite series from this once legendary distillery. Labeled with classic Japanese artwork in a vivid, colorful palate, this selection of whisky bottles is another collector’s dream.
Held in a charming and exquisitely designed decanter, the Hibiki 35-Year-Old Whisky is one of the oldest Hibiki liquor available. The porcelain-made bottle was crafted by a master porcelain craftsman, the late Tokuda Yasokichi III. A true masterpiece, both inside and out, the Hibiki 35-Year-Old Whisky is a special treasure that you’ll enjoy.
Another beauty from Suntory’s Hibiki Distillery, the Hibiki 35-Year-Old Limited Edition is stored in the rare and refined Sakaida Kakiemon XIV Decanter. Crafted by the late the 14th generation Sakaida Kakiemon, who was from a long line of ceramicists and potters, this whisky bottle was designed by the National Treasure of Japan making this whisky a rarity in history, culture, and liquor.
Another vintage treasure from Karuizawa, and one that has 45 years on it! This single-malt, single-cask whisky has a complex flavor that you can only find in this bottle. The 45-Year-Old Whisky comes with an elegant box to match the sophisticated appeal of this liquor. Only 310 bottles were ever released, and the number is going to continue going down, so get this before it runs out for good!
A bottle handmade by Noboru Masuda, a famous ceramicist, in his studio in Yashirokama, the Karuizawa Yashiro 1971 37-Year-Old Whisky is stored in a rustically designed ceramic decanter, which was made in honor of the traditional Japanese ballad, Aki Yashiro (hence the name of this whisky product). Since the Karuizawa Distillery has closed down, only the remains are left behind, and this is one bottle that won’t be here forever.
Specially bottled for Shinjuku’s Isetan department store with just a handful of releases, the Karuizawa Five Decades is the most historical one of all Karuizawa whiskies. Fused with five decades worth of Karuizawa cask whiskies, this is the ultimate Karuizawa whisky to have in your possession.
- Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu Playing Card Series
Hanyu’s Playing Card Series is another timeless set that was produced by the now silent distillery, Hanyu. However, Venture Whisky, the owner of Chichibu Distillery, inherited these incredibly rare and legendary whisky bottles, and now they can be found here at dekanta. In a Bonhams Hong Kong auction, the entire 54-bottle collection sold for a whopping $390,928.12! Here at Dekanta, we offer some of the whisky bottles from the Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu Playing Card Series, and each bottle can have a price tag of well over $3,000:
- Ichiro’s Malt Card Series (Kings & Clubs Set) – $23,999.99
- Ichiro’s Malt: The Colored and Monochrome Joker Set – $14,999.99
- Ichiro’s Malt: Queen of Clubs – $7,299.99
- Ichiro’s Malt: Two of Hearts – $5,506.20
- Ichiro’s Malt: Five of Clubs – $6,699.99
- Ichiro’s Malt: Nine of Hearts – $4,299.99
You can find more Ichiro’s Malt Hanyu Card Playing whisky bottles here. If you’d like to learn more about the 54-bottle whisky set, check out these blog posts:
- Ichiro’s Malt Card Series – A Collector’s Dream
- Ichiro’s Malt In High Demand
- The Hanyu Playing Cards
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the world-renown band, The Rolling Stones, Suntory created this limited edition whisky and released only 150 bottles, making this one of Suntory’s rarest whiskies to date. Several whiskies were blended into this crystal glass bottle, and each whisky was carefully chosen to represent a memorable moment for the Rolling Stones:
- 1962 – The year the Rolling Stones formed (Yamazaki Malt Whisky)
- 1971 – The year Rolling Stones’ lips and tongue logo was created (Yamazaki Malt Whisky)
- 1972 – The year Rolling Stones’ album, Exile on Main St., was used in Suntory commercials (Yamazaki Malt Whisky)
- 1981 – The year the Rolling Stones’ leading song “Start Me Up” was released (Yamazaki Malt Whisky)
- 1990 – The year Rolling Stones first performed in Japan at the Tokyo Dome (Hakushu Malt, Chikusu Grain)
The bottle features the Rolling Stones’ lips and tongue logo, making this a true treasure for whisky and Rolling Stones fanatics.
Dragons are symbols of power, wealth, guardianship, and good fortune in Japan, and one of these legendary dragons has found its way on Karuizawa’s bottle! This golden dragon design is a symbol of good fortune and gives the whisky bottle a majestic look. The dragon is guarding the Karuizawa treasure inside, a fine single malt that has aged for 40 years. A true valuable vintage gem that is sure to please any collector!
Yamazaki, a Suntory distillery, has a wide selection of award-winning whiskies, and this Yamazaki 2013 4-Bottle Set features a luxurious sample set of Yamazaki’s best whiskies. This set comes with four Yamazaki whiskies that were released for Suntory’s 90th anniversary:
- Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 (Won best whisky in the world in 2015)
- Yamazaki Mizunara 2013
- Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel 2013
- Yamazaki Puncheon 2013
Grab this collection of Suntory’s greatest, award-winning Yamazaki whisky set for your own treasure chest of whiskies!
These price tags might have been a shocker, but these luxury whiskies are extravagant in price for a reason. If you want to know why Japanese whiskies like the ones mentioned in this blog post have high costs, check out our blog post why Japanese whisky is worth the price.