The Suntory Owner’s Cask bottlings are a legendary, old and rare collection of single cask releases that was created to allow private investors to buy a cask of their very own Japanese whisky from the Yamazaki or Hakushu distilleries. This was the very first time people could get their hands on a whole cask of Japanese whisky, and there hasn’t been an opportunity like it since.
It allowed interested investors to taste a number of exquisite barrels, in the company of a Suntory Master Blender who talked them through each of the available casks. They then got to select which cask they wanted to purchase, before choosing the length of time they would like it stored and matured for.
Originally, there were just 103 casks available – 63 from Yamazaki and 40 from Hakushu. A variety of ages were available, and buyers also had the choice of sherry or bourbon cask matured liquid. The price varied depending on the age and quality of the cask, with older, sherry cask matured liquid fetching premium prices.
The liquid was bottled by Suntory and the cask buyer’s name was then signed on every single bottle. It was then up to the individual cask owners whether they wanted to sell it on or keep it for themselves and friends.
Given the value of these bottles, it’s no surprise that many owner’s chose to put at least a portion of the whisky out on the market and today you can find a number of exquisite Owner’s Cask expressions out there.
As they are rare single cask whiskies, they often fetch a hefty price at auction houses around the world, but that shouldn’t put you off buying one – these bottles are a piece of Japanese whisky history.
Today, we’ll go through a few of our favourite Owner’s Cask releases, so that you can find a bottle that is perfect for you.
This outstanding expression was distilled in 1990 and matured in a top quality sherry butt for 15 whole years, resulting in a rich, ruby red colour and a whole array of incredible tasting notes including raising, sticky dates, honey, gentle vanilla and a range of red berries. It is one of the older expressions in the Owner’s Cask Series and thus is smooth, elegant and woody. Only 442 bottles of this one were produced and even less remain on the market today. A really outstanding single malt that is as rare as they come.
This brilliant single malt expression was distilled in 1994 and matured in a sherry cask for around 11 years before bottling, resulting in a rich, dark colour and a whole array of juicy and fruity notes just waiting to be explored. With this one, expect dried berries, rich oak, a gentle combination of spices and juicy red fruits. Only 489 bottles came from the cask, making this a highly collectible whisky from one of the most exciting Japanese whisky series of all time. If you’re looking for a bottle that is packed with notes and is a real collectible at the same time, this could be the whisky for you.
This exciting expression was distilled in 1995 and differs from the previous bottles in that it was matured in a top quality bourbon hogshead cask for 12 whole years, resulting in a gorgeous golden colour and a plethora of brilliant tasting notes including sweet honey, aromatic vanilla, charred oak, gentle nutmeg and a long, chocolaty finish. It’s a smooth and elegant whisky that will take several drams to fully explore and it’s sure to keep you coming back for another dram time and time again. Given bourbon casks are generally smaller than sherry, only 206 bottles of this one were produced.
This 1992 Vintage expression from the Owner’s Cask Series was matured in a top quality bourbon barrel for 14 whole years, resulting in a beautiful golden amber colour and exciting tasting notes including sweet vanilla, rich oak, lavender honey, subtle spices and much more. It’s a well-balanced whisky that delivers sweet and subtly spicy in tandem and the tasting notes work magic on your nose and palate, all backed up by a long, sweet finish. Only 162 bottles of this one were produced, making it one of the smallest batch whiskies in the entire series and one that is well worth adding to your collection.
This 1990 vintage expression from the Yamazaki Distillery was matured in an ex-bourbon barrel for 15 whole years, resulting in a glowing amber colour and a plethora of delicious tasting notes including vanilla, charred oak, cinnamon spice, citrus zest and more. The lengthy ageing period has helped to work out any kinks in the whisky and the results are an incredibly smooth drinking experience that is unlike any other you are likely to try. Much like the previous bottle, this one was highly limited in numbers upon release, with an outrun of just 132 bottles, and it’s very difficult to find on today’s market.