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Japanese whisky: a delicacy that deserves to be at the top shelf of your liquor cabinet! The Japanese people are known for being meticulous and patient when it comes to perfecting any type craftsmanship, and whisky production is one of these arts that has earned Japanese whisky a high-in-demand, first-rate reputation around the world. However, for those who are new to the world of Japanese whisky, it may be shocking to see some of the price tags for these bottles of luxurious liquor. With some whisky bottles selling for thousands of dollars, what makes Japanese whisky worth the price?
Reason #1: High Demand = Higher Costs
It’s the natural process of the supply and demand. Due to Japanese whisky becoming increasingly popular in the West and despite the various distilleries in Japan producing whisky, the supply could not keep up with the demand. However, it’s important to note that each Japanese whisky distillery puts great effort into producing the finest whisky product. Since whisky requires a certain amount of time to age and perfected, it takes a while to send out these rare bottles to the market. You can learn more about the history and hype surrounding Japanese whisky in these blog posts:
- A Short Story on Japanese Whisky
- Perfect Harmony: What Makes Japanese Whisky Different
- A Lesson in Japanese Whisky
- Dekanta’s Guide to Investing in Japanese Whisky
Reason #2: The Perfect Collector’s Item
Japanese whisky, especially rare ones, are great collector’s items; many collectors of fine whisky products will consider the cost of high-end Japanese whisky as an investment rather than simply an expense. Each bottle is filled with rich liquid that soothes and satisfies your tastebuds, but Japanese whisky is more than that. What you’re experiencing is Japanese culture and history in a bottle.
The Karuizawa Samurai 1-10 Plus Rack is an excellent example of a collector’s treasure. This collection features 10 30-year whisky bottles produced in 1985 from the now-closed distillery, Karuizawa. This set not only holds the riches left behind by a reputable distillery, but it also holds the one-of-a-kind aged whisky that Karuizawa was known for. (Learn more about the Karuizawa Distillery here.)
No matter which Japanese whisky you invest in, keep in mind that whisky is a long-lasting and valuable possession that’s more than the price tag.
Reason #3: Open vs. Closed Distilleries Can Affect Price
This is a case of rarity when it comes to Japanese whisky from open and closed distilleries. Open distilleries are still in business while closed distilleries have shut down. Some of the most esteemed closed distilleries include Karuizawa and Hanyu, and the whisky from these distilleries are more likely to be higher in price because of their rarity in the market. Whisky sold from open distilleries tend to be lower in cost.
Here are some examples of Japanese whisky and their prices from closed distilleries:
- The Karuizawa Yashiro 1971 37-Year-Old Whisky: $15,499.99
- Ichiro’s Malt Joker Monochrome: $12,199.99
- Karuizawa Geisha Label 1980 35-Year-Old Whisky: $12,399.99
These are some of the whisky offered from open distilleries:
- Yamazaki 18-Year-Old Whisky: $549.99
- Hanshu 12-Year-Old Whisky: $189.99
- The Lucky Cat ‘Sun’ Port & Madeira Finish: $164.99
Although which type of distillery a bottle of Japanese whisky comes from can affect the price, it’s also possible for open distilleries to have whisky bottles selling for $8,000+ such as the Ichiro’s Malt – Chichibu Ghost 8 whisky.
Reason #4: The Age of a Japanese Whisky Bottle Can Determine Price
Consider these types of whisky from Japan the designer brand of all Japanese whisky. Age is a major factor when it comes to the price tags of Japanese whisky. For most Japanese whiskies, the older they are, the finer and more mature the taste and the more valuable they become. The taste of older Japanese whiskies is a powerful, memorable experience if you enjoy the richness of aged liquor. These whiskies are also fantastic collector’s items and something that will last for years, so it’s well-worth the investment.
Examples of some high-end, mature whiskies that Dekanta offers:
- Yamazaki 50-Year-Old Whisky: $109,999.99
- Karuizawa 1960, 1963, and 1964 Set: $239,999.99
- Yamazaki “The Century” 1960 40-Year-Old: $54,999.99
Reason #5: Japanese Whisky Has Received Top International Awards
Various Japanese whiskies have received incredible awards and honors from around the world based, and that adds even more value to them. For instance, the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 was named the World Whiskey of the Year by the Whiskey Bible 2015. This recognition and exposure also helped increase the demand for Japanese whisky, especially the Yamazaki Sherry Cask. Due to this significant moment in whisky history, as well as other awards that Japanese has received in the past, awareness and prices have risen, shining a spotlight and highlighting the extraordinary Japanese whisky market.