On Friday at an auction held by Bonhams in Hong Kong the first edition Yamazaki 50-Year-Old broke yet another world record, selling for $343,000. This tops the previous sale of the Yamazaki 50 in January, when it sold for almost $300,000.
The recent sale follows a growing trend in the world whisky community, as rare bottles fetch astronomical prices time and time again, at both auctions and stores. This 2005 edition of the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old was priced at just $9,000 upon release, with just 50 bottles available, but each year the bottle has risen in value, finally reaching the price tag it went for at Friday’s auction.
Other Japanese whiskies to sell for staggering prices at auction include many from the Hanyu distillery, and the renowned Karuizawa whisky range, which has risen greatly in value since the distillery shut down in 2000. The Suntory Yamazaki distillery is, of course, the most well-known in the Japanese whisky world, with most of its bottles selling for extremely high retail prices. The recent announcement by Suntory concerning the discontinuation of the Hibiki 17 and the Hakushu 12-Year-Old expressions also sent prices and demand skyrocketing, affecting the category as a whole. Moving forward, we can expect expressions like the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old and Karuizawa bottlings to continue to rise in value as collectors and whisky fans relentlessly hunt down the remaining bottles.
“The Yamazaki 50-year-old is a very rare and special whisky, and I am expecting a lot of interest from collectors,” said Daniel Lam, Bonhams’ head of fine wine and whisky in Hong Kong, before the auction took place. Expectations have been exceeded in 2018 so far, let’s see what the future holds and just how far Japanese whisky will go.