Japanese Whiskey Is Hot Right Now – Here’s Why Some Bottles, Like the One Mike Pompeo Was Given, Are Going For Thousands Of Dollars
Between the Olympics and Mike Pompeo’s recent woes over a missing bottle of whiskey, Japanese Whiskey is hotter than ever. Some bottles, released with $300 price tags, are even selling for thousands of dollars.
Japanese Whiskey, until recently, was typically distilled in Japan and bottled there by one of the country’s several main distillers. Until 2021, there were circumstances that allowed whiskey to be produced elsewhere and imported, while still being labeled as Japanese Whiskey. That said, most Japanese Whiskey today is produced on the island of Japan, and bottled there as well.
For quite some time, Japanese Whiskey was largely ignored – at least in regards to secondary sales and high end auction releases. While Yamazaki would occasionally release something akin to a hyper rare 50yr expression, the focus of high end buyers was Bourbon and Scotch whiskey buyers. This all changed in 2016.
The year 2016 brought the whiskey industry a notable release from Yamazaki. Their Sherry Cask release was new and interesting, taking their base spirit and applying extra maturation in a sherry wine cask. People generally liked the release, it was well received. Then, one notable figurehead of the industry (then) proceeded to give it his highest accolade. Whiskey writer and critic Jim Murray famously awarded Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 his Whiskey of the Year Award. Overnight, the bottle’s fame exploded. Released with a $300 MSRP, the bottling now sells for sums closer to 4,000 GBP ($5.550 USD).
This insane valuation increase has brought the eye of the world to the entire category, promoting what enthusiasts refer to as “halo sales”. Now, bottlings by other distilleries in Japan have seen their valuations rise, and become scarcer as more people hunt to acquire them.
Scarcity has returned to the conversation as the Olympics take place in Japan this summer – renewing the worlds eye towards Japanese culture, food and drink markets: whiskey included.
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