Japan Whisky, Wines & Sake

Japan Karuizawa Whisky.jpg

Although Japan is usually associated with the rice wine sake, there are other varieties of wine produced, although yet to make an impression internationally in the fine wine market.  Japanese wines are usually delicate and made from some combinations of Koshu, Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Bailey A. However, the most important export in the marketplace for collectors and connoisseurs is Japanese Whisky. Although Japanese whisky took a lead from Scotland, over the last 100 years it has forged a truly unique style and excellent reputation. The country now boasts a broad spectrum of whiskies made with a variety of techniques that are met with astonishing critical acclaim. Below you will find insight into some of the top Japanese whisky producers and beneath that a selection of rare single malts currently on offer.

 

Karuizawa

Karuizawa is a cult brand that garners unprecedented demand and high prices. The tiny Karuizawa distillery was founded in 1955 on the slopes of an active volcano called Mount Asama in Nagano Prefecture and became the first Japanese distillery to export in 1959. Unfortunately it was mothballed in 2000 and despite its supreme quality; the then owners Kirin closed it for good in 2011. It was then purchased by Number One Drinks Company who now distributes the rare and hugely collectable remaining whisky. Now a go-to for collectors and aficionados, although completely unique, the style is generally richly sherried and not entirely un-Scottish due to the cold winters. Its rarity, innovative bottlings, eye-catching labels and cask strength make it extrememly appealing.

 

Suntory, Yamazaki, Hakushu & Hibiki

Suntory is one of the world’s leading brewing and distilling companies. They launched their first whisky in 1929 and revitalised Château Lagrange in 1983. It owns a number of distilleries, with the most important being Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki. All three have an impressive history of IWSC, SWSC and ISC gold medals and “best in class” awards.

 

Yamazaki is Japan’s oldest distillery and probably the most recognisable brand on the international market. Established by Shinjiro Torii in 1924 just outside Kyoto, the distillery uses the same waters that are used in the world-renowned tea ceremonies conducted throughout the region. The importance of this distillery is that this is where it all began for Japan. Now the third largest whisky market in the world, Yamazaki remains the most popular single malt in Japan.

 

Hakushu is Suntory’s second distillery, situated at the base of Mount Kaikomagatake in Yamanashi prefecture, it produces gently smoky whisky, some of which is filtered through charred bamboo.

 

Hibiki, meaning ‘resonance’ in Japanese, is Suntory’s third distillery. It produces premium blended whiskies aged in umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur) casks.

 

Hanyu & Chichibu

Founded in 1941 by the descendant of lineage of sake producers, Hanyu Distillery was located in Saitama prefecture. In the 1980s the distillery moved to making whisky, but production at Hanyu in Southern Japan stopped in 2000 and the distillery was closed and destroyed in 2004, a not dissimilar fate to that of Karuizawa. The remaining stock was saved by the founder’s grandson Ichiro Akuto, who had worked previously at Suntory, Karuizawa and BenRiach.

 

Ichiro Akuto began to release limited bottlings of these Hanyu casks under the name Ichiro’s Malt. As the distillery has closed, the supply is limited and therefore they are highly collectable and highly sought-after. Akuto has since set up his own distillery called Chichibu and moved the remaining stock of Hanyu there. Chichibu follows in Hanyu’s footsteps, also focussing on tiny volume, high quality malt whisky production. The status and reputation of this young distillery is growing exponentially. Their attention to detail sees the team travel to Scotland each year to make their own malt.

 

Releases from both Hanyu and Chichibu have such a loyal cult following that demand outstrips supply. Seeing these malt whiskies on the market is a rare opportunity that should be seriously considered.

 

Nikka, Yoichi & Taketsuru

Founder Masataka Taketsuru, son of a Sake brewer, travelled to Scotland and became an apprentice at a Scottish whisky distillery. After marrying and settling in Campbeltown, he travelled back to Japan set up his Nikka Whisky brand and built Yoichi distillery in Hokkaido and later the Miyagikyo distillery in Sendai. Nikka, now owned by Asahi, produces a wide range of whiskies and also own the Ben Nevis distillery. Nikka describe Yoichi as a: “rich, peaty and masculine malt”, while Miyagiko is more elegant and feminine. Taketsuru is a blend of Nikka’s two single malts and is a tribute to Masataka Taketsuru, who is considered by many as the father of Japanese whisky. Nikka also producer Nikka From The Barrel (a blend of Nikka’s two single malts and grain whisky), Pure Malt, and Nikka Coffey (from the two Coffey stills at Miyagikyo).

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Japan

WINES COLLAPSE ALL

MARKET PRICE    ?

N.V. Chichibu Chibidaru 2010 53.5%

92.0

N.V. Chichibu Chibidaru 2010 53.5%

92.0
£328.00
DP £328.00

N.V. Hakushu 12 YO Hakushu

N.V. Hakushu 12 YO Hakushu

£85.00
£85.00
DP £85.00

N.V. Hakushu 18 YO Hakushu

N.V. Hakushu 18 YO Hakushu

£286.00
£286.00
DP £286.00

N.V. Hakushu 25 Year Old 43%

N.V. Hakushu 25 Year Old 43%

£1,423.00
£1,423.00

1991 Hanyu Single Cask 370 57.3%

91.5

1991 Hanyu Single Cask 370 57.3%

91.5
£1,513.00
DP £1,513.00

N.V. Hibiki 30 Year Old 43%

N.V. Hibiki 30 Year Old 43%

£3,407.00
£3,407.00
DP £3,407.00

N.V. Ichiro's Kiyosato Field Ballet 27th Anniversary 48%

N.V. Ichiro's Kiyosato Field Ballet 27th Anniversary 48%

£2,198.00
DP £2,198.00

N.V. Karuizawa 2012 Tokyo Int. Barshow of 61.6% 11 YO Karuizawa

N.V. Karuizawa 2012 Tokyo Int. Barshow of 61.6% 11 YO Karuizawa

£1,788.00
£1,788.00

1984 Karuizawa Artifices 013 Sherry Cask 5410 30YO

1984 Karuizawa Artifices 013 Sherry Cask 5410 30YO

£3,800.00
DP £3,800.00

1980 Karuizawa Artifices 014 Bourbon Cask #6476 34 YO 63%

1980 Karuizawa Artifices 014 Bourbon Cask #6476 34 YO 63%

£3,533.00
£3,533.00

1985 Karuizawa Artifices W.Khong 003 Sherry Cask 2364 30YO 55.2%

1985 Karuizawa Artifices W.Khong 003 Sherry Cask 2364 30YO 55.2%

£3,800.00
DP £3,800.00

1984 Karuizawa Bourbon Cask 8173 58.5% Karuizawa

1984 Karuizawa Bourbon Cask 8173 58.5% Karuizawa

£3,128.00
£3,128.00

N.V. Karuizawa Fight Set (86/87/88) Karuizawa

N.V. Karuizawa Fight Set (86/87/88) Karuizawa

£7,784.00
£23,326.00

N.V. Karuizawa Geisha Label Set Karuizawa

N.V. Karuizawa Geisha Label Set Karuizawa

£2,570.00
£10,282.00

1999 Karuizawa Geisha cask 2332 58.5% Karuizawa

1999 Karuizawa Geisha cask 2332 58.5% Karuizawa

£2,398.00
DP £2,398.00

2000 Karuizawa Geisha cask 2339 61.1% Karuizawa

2000 Karuizawa Geisha cask 2339 61.1% Karuizawa

£2,398.00
DP £2,398.00

2000 Karuizawa Geisha cask 7721 59% Karuizawa

2000 Karuizawa Geisha cask 7721 59% Karuizawa

£2,398.00
DP £2,398.00

1999 Karuizawa Geisha cask 895 58.6% Karuizawa

1999 Karuizawa Geisha cask 895 58.6% Karuizawa

£2,398.00
DP £2,398.00

1980 Karuizawa Gold Samurai 61.6% Karuizawa

1980 Karuizawa Gold Samurai 61.6% Karuizawa

£4,038.00
DP £4,038.00

1980 Karuizawa J'Avance Vers Le Futur 33YO 62.1% Karuizawa

1980 Karuizawa J'Avance Vers Le Futur 33YO 62.1% Karuizawa

£5,697.00
£5,697.00

N.V. Karuizawa MV No.1 (81, 82, 83, 84) 59.1% Karuizawa

N.V. Karuizawa MV No.1 (81, 82, 83, 84) 59.1% Karuizawa

£3,775.00
£3,775.00

1983 Karuizawa Nepal Appeal Sherry Cask 3557 31YO 59.1% Karuizawa

1983 Karuizawa Nepal Appeal Sherry Cask 3557 31YO 59.1% Karuizawa

£24,537.00
£24,537.00

N.V. Karuizawa Noh 28yo Sherry Cask #7576 57.2% Karuizawa

90.5

N.V. Karuizawa Noh 28yo Sherry Cask #7576 57.2% Karuizawa

90.5
£3,108.00
DP £3,108.00

1989 Karuizawa Noh Sherry Cask #7893 23 YO 63.9% Karuizawa

1989 Karuizawa Noh Sherry Cask #7893 23 YO 63.9% Karuizawa

£2,590.00
DP £2,590.00

1977 Karuizawa Noh Sherry Cask 4592 32 YO 60.7% Karuizawa

1977 Karuizawa Noh Sherry Cask 4592 32 YO 60.7% Karuizawa

£5,977.00
£5,977.00

1983 Karuizawa Noh Sherry Hogshead 5322 29YO 59.4% Karuizawa

1983 Karuizawa Noh Sherry Hogshead 5322 29YO 59.4% Karuizawa

£4,189.00
£4,189.00

1980 Karuizawa Pourquoi Faut Il 33YO 60.3% Karuizawa

1980 Karuizawa Pourquoi Faut Il 33YO 60.3% Karuizawa

£4,636.00
£4,636.00

N.V. Karuizawa Samourai Collection Set Karuizawa

N.V. Karuizawa Samourai Collection Set Karuizawa

£6,940.00
£68,916.00

1984 Karuizawa Sherry Cask 8838 Maison du Whisky 61.6%

1984 Karuizawa Sherry Cask 8838 Maison du Whisky 61.6%

£3,433.00
DP £3,433.00

2000 Karuizawa Tokyo Bar Show Cask 7603 62.4% Karuizawa

2000 Karuizawa Tokyo Bar Show Cask 7603 62.4% Karuizawa

£1,313.00
DP £1,313.00

N.V. Karuizawa x Kawasaki Ghost Series #7 Time Slip 43% Karuizawa

N.V. Karuizawa x Kawasaki Ghost Series #7 Time Slip 43% Karuizawa

£3,358.00
DP £3,358.00

1982 Kawasaki Sherry Cask #4711 Single Grain 65.3%

95.5

1982 Kawasaki Sherry Cask #4711 Single Grain 65.3%

95.5
£1,819.00
DP £1,819.00

N.V. Nikka 40 Year Old 43%

N.V. Nikka 40 Year Old 43%

£4,691.00
£4,691.00

N.V. Nikka from the Barrel 51.4%

N.V. Nikka from the Barrel 51.4%

£47.00
£36.00
£47.00

N.V. Suntory Houga 2015 Release 43%

N.V. Suntory Houga 2015 Release 43%

£1,818.00
DP £1,818.00

N.V. Suntory Wa-Kyo 2015 Release 43%

N.V. Suntory Wa-Kyo 2015 Release 43%

£1,513.00
DP £1,513.00

N.V. Taketsuru 17 YO (43%)

N.V. Taketsuru 17 YO (43%)

£169.00
DP £169.00

N.V. Taketsuru 21 YO (43%)

N.V. Taketsuru 21 YO (43%)

£208.00
DP £208.00

1960 Wakatsuru Saburomaru 55 Years Old 47% Hakushu

1960 Wakatsuru Saburomaru 55 Years Old 47% Hakushu

£13,441.00
£13,441.00
DP £13,441.00
£14,402.00

N.V. Yamazaki 12 Year Old 43%

90.0

N.V. Yamazaki 12 Year Old 43%

90.0
£133.00
£133.00
DP £133.00

N.V. Yamazaki 18 YO

96.0

N.V. Yamazaki 18 YO

96.0
£380.00
NEW
£380.00

1984 Yamazaki 25 Year Old 43%

1984 Yamazaki 25 Year Old 43%

£6,362.00
DP £6,362.00

N.V. Yamazaki Limited Edition 2014 43%

N.V. Yamazaki Limited Edition 2014 43%

£402.00
DP £402.00

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