Rare Japanese whisky to sell for R405,000 a bottle

Bottles of Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey stand on display during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. Japan's oldest distillery will release Yamazaki 55 this summer, with a supply so limited that owner Suntory Holdings Ltd. will release only 100 bottles.
Bottles of Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey stand on display during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. Japan's oldest distillery will release Yamazaki 55 this summer, with a supply so limited that owner Suntory Holdings Ltd. will release only 100 bottles.
Image: Noriko Hayashi

Japan’s Suntory Holdings on Thursday unveiled a limited edition 55-year-old Yamazaki single malt whisky, which it will sell for ¥3m (R404,710) a bottle, aiming to bolster its credentials as a premium whisky maker.

Only 100 bottles would be sold from June 30, and buyers would be chosen by lottery, the company said.

Suntory and other premium whisky makers have been faced with depleted stocks of aged whiskies after an unexpected surge in popularity of single malts in the past decade.

Many have turned to blends without age statements to manage supply.

The company, for example, ended sales of its popular 17-year Hibiki, which appeared in the film Lost in Translation, in 2018.

In the past few years, Suntory has issued more no-age blends and has depended on strong sales of much cheaper whisky highballs for growth.

But many whisky aficionados still seek out aged single malts, and Kengo Torii, head of Suntory’s whisky division, said it wanted to shore up its reputation as a premium manufacturer.

“We were concerned that we had not been able to deliver anything new for a long time regarding the Yamazaki brand,” he said.

Blended from whisky matured in mizunara and white oak casks, the edition will be the oldest version of Yamazaki, Suntory’s flagship single malt produced at Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in Osaka.

Suntory chief blender Shinji Fukuyo described the taste as sweet and woody, with a mature, fruity aroma and long aftertaste.

The company in 2005 sold a limited edition of a 50-year-old Yamazaki for ¥1m (R135,000).

One of them auctioned by Bonhams in Hong Kong in 2018 fetched HK$2.695m (R5m). — Reuters

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