The world wakes up to Japanese whiskey – exports up 18x in value in the past decade
Japanese whiskey has been gaining popularity in recent years. Today, many whiskey connoisseurs place famous Japanese whiskies like Suntory, Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki and Nikka in the same regard as they do some of the most celebrated Scottish single malts. However, it isn’t just whiskey specialists demanding Japanese whiskey – general consumers are pushing the demand for the spirit too.
As a result, the value of Japanese whiskey has skyrocketed over the past decade. In 2012, the export value of whiskey produced domestically in Japan was 2.48 billion Yen (19 million USD). By 2021, that value had increased to 46 billion Yen (351 million USD). Clearly, the taste for Japanese whiskey has gone global. What makes Japanese whisky so special, and why are consumers worldwide willing to pay the highest prices to get it?
Fixed supply and strong demand pushing prices skyward
So, what’s driving this meteoric price hike? Of course, Japanese whiskey is renowned for its exceptional quality and unique taste, but other forces are at play. Ultimately, Japanese whiskey prices are increasing because demand is outstripping supply. As more and more consumers are exposed to Japanese whiskey worldwide, demand for this unique spirit is increasing.
However, creating such an exquisite beverage requires time. Lots of it. Distillers must complete the maturation process so, as a result, there is a fixed supply. Instead of pushing out inferior products, Japanese whiskey producers are distilling more and allowing time to age these bottles to perfection. Consequently, export prices are rising as supplies dwindle. This means Japanese whiskey drinkers can still enjoy their favorite spirit at home with stable domestic prices, while keen foreign connoisseurs are still willing to pay top dollar to enjoy the spirit outside of Japan.
The world’s most expensive whiskey? Yamazaki 55
Japanese whisky may have knocked scotch off the top spot, with one particular Japanese brand emerging as the most expensive whiskey in the world. While some specific, embellished bottles, such as a hand-painted bottle of The Macallan 1926 60-year-old, have sold for more, many experts believe the Yamazaki 55 is the world’s most expensive standard retail brand.
To date, the most expensive bottle of Suntory’s single malt Yamazaki 55 sold for a staggering 795,000 USD, even though the recommended retail price was 60,000 USD. Today, you can expect to pay between 699,000 and 999,999 USD for this extra special spirit.