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Japanese Whisky : Liquid gold

Given the fast increasing average price of Japanese whiskies, it is no understatement to refer to the prized beverage as liquid gold. Earlier this year, a bottle of Japanese whisky was sold at 343,000 USD in Hong Kong setting the record as the world’s most expensive Japanese whisky ever sold. The bottle in question was a limited edition bottle of a Yamazaki 50 year old single malt that was auction off at Sotheby’s. This shows that the market for Japanese whisky and whisky in general is booming and still going strong.

These days, the general consensus appear to be that the best whiskies are made in Japan and no longer Scotland. Japanese whisky has been gaining prominence ever since Nikka’s 10-year Yoichi single malt won “Best of the Best” at Whisky Magazine‘s awards back in 2001. Ever since then Japanese whiskies have won awards for being the best in the world in various categories. This caused a boom in demand of Japanese whisky, especially the aged varieties.

The huge soar in global demand is causing a crisis for the major producers of Japanese whisky like Suntory and Nikka as demand far outstrips their supply of whisky. This problem originated back in the 1980s when the economic crisis of Japan caused everyone in the country to have a downbeat view of the economy thus causing spending to decrease as well as demand, causing the decline in sales of Japanese whisky. The producers then , faced with the reality of the economic crisis and also not anticipating the boom in demand for their whisky, made the decision of decreasing the production of their whisky. This resulted in the situation of there not having adequate stock of aged whisky. Suntory have discontinued the Hibiki 17 years old and Hakushu 12 years old recently because of this.

This crisis is causing a massive rise in prices of aged Japanese whisky. Back in 14 May 2018, a bottle of Hibiki 17 years old was selling for €190.5 and as of 2 June 2018 it has increased up to €999.85 due to the news of it being discontinued. That is a more than a 500% increased in value. This phenomenon also affected all the whiskies in the entire Hibiki line that includes the 12 year old and 21 year old to increase in value as well.

Your jaw would drop even further when u know that the original price of this prized Japanese whisky was way lower.

The above example is just one incident but in general prices of Japanese whisky has been rising year after year. The potential of the market is still massive.

The question is, is the price sustainable? Has it reached its peak?

China is still growing and look at how the Chinese have driven up the prices of French Red from Bordeaux and Burgundy. The Chinese market is getting increasingly sophisticated. Judging from other Chinese dominated Asian countries such as Singapore (the largest consumer of scotch whisky in the world) and Hong Kong, China is sure to follow and fall in love with whiskies, the drink of kings. When the time comes, there is no doubt that the already high price of Japanese whiskies will shoot up even further.

The best things in the world do not come cheap but at those prices, it’s better to keep it as an investment instead. If the past trend is anything to rely on, it would be wise to stock up on these whiskies, in particular the aged variety of Hibiki and Yamazaki.”


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