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Japanese Whisky Bottle Prices, Sizes, & Guide (2024 Best Edition)

Japanese Whisky Price

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Whiskey trends come and go, but Japanese whisky never goes out of style. This whisky grew from a little-known category to one of the most sought-after.

But why do Japanese whisky prices keep on rising? With almost a century in the market, the art of Japanese whisky looks toward perfection in quality. 

Keep reading to know what this whisky is all about—from its roots and types to the current average Japanese whisky price in the market.

Overview of Japanese Whisky: Price & Buying Guide

Bottles of Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky is timeless and always aims to refine whiskies. Although it is popular, the supplies are still limited—that’s why the price tags keep escalating.

There are many Japanese whisky brands to choose from, offering traditional whisky to blended whiskies, with prices that could range from less than a hundred to a thousand dollars.

But always check the bottle’s authenticity because fraudsters fake a bottle and sell it for less than half of the current market value.

History & Origin

The first whisky in Japan was made in 1923 at Suntory’s Yamazaki Distillery. [1]

Shinjiro Torii founded the brand and hired Masataka Taketsuru as a distillery executive. 

Japanese whiskies are instilled with skill and history, which has been enjoyed domestically for almost a century.

It was inspired by Scotch whisky—the reason it is spelled without the ’e.’

How It’s Made

Distillery Copper Pot Stills

Like Scotch whisky, Japanese whisky depends heavily on malted grain, and other grains can be added if it’s a single malt.

But it must be distilled, fermented, aged, and bottled in Japan. It has to be matured for at least three years to comply with Japanese whisky standards. [2]

All Japanese whiskies are wood-aged, and the manufacturers use Sherry casks, American oak barrels, or Japanese Mizunara oak, which imparts unique, vibrant notes. 

Japanese Whisky Types 

Shochu

Shochu is one of the traditional expressions of Japanese whisky. It is mainly made from grains such as buckwheat, rice, and sugar cane, and vegetables like sweet potato or carrots. 

This Japanese whisky is often fermented with ’koji,’ a mold that grows on the grain, and as a distilled beverage, Shochu has an average alcohol content of 25% to 37% when bottled.

Japanese Rice Whisky 

Aside from the prominent malted barley, Japanese whisky also produces rice whisky, commonly known as the ’Sake.’ Like beer, rice whisky is fermented—using rice, water, yeast, and koji.

Blended Japanese Whisky

Japanese blended whiskies are made of grain, containing corn, rye, and even wheat as their base, with single malts combined from different casks and ages. 

This type of Japanese whisky often delivers profound, complex, and unique flavors to the whisky.

5 Most Popular Japanese Whisky Brands

1. Suntory Whisky

Bottle of Suntory World Whisky

Suntory whisky is a pioneering brand of Japanese whisky. It offers single malts and blended Japanese whisky that are revolutionary and timeless.

This brand holds the most well-known and expensive bottles of Japanese whisky—the Yamazaki single malt whisky, and Hibiki, one of the famous blended Japanese whisky.

2. Mars Whisky

Iwai Mars Japanese Whiskey Bottle

Mars whisky is distilled in Japan’s highest whisky distillery located between Japan’s Southern Alps and Central Alps at 2,600 ft. above sea level.

It offers malt-driven whisky like the famed Iwai Tradition and other blended Japanese whisky finished in different casks like Sakura cask, Sherry cask, and plum wine cask.

Read: Asahi vs Sapporo

3. Nikka Whisky

Hand Holding Bottle and a Box of of Nikka From the Barrel

Nikka whisky is founded by Masataka Taketsuru, known as the ’father of Japanese whisky.’ The brand consists of single malts like Yoichi and Miyagikyo.

It also offers blended malt of varying ages, like Taketsuru and its premium blended whisky, the Nikka Tailored.

4. Akashi Whisky

Akashi White Oak Blended Whisky

Akashi whisky is owned by Eigashima Shuzo, also known as White Oak Distillery in Japan. This distillery is the first Japanese distillery to be licensed to make whiskey.

Aside from its well-known single malt whisky, the brand has the first ready-to-drink canned Japanese highball drink, Akashi Japanese Whisky Highball, from Eigashima Shuzo.

5. Akkeshi Whisky

Akkeshi Single Malt Whisky Bottle and a Box

Akkeshi is considered the second Japanese whisky distillery after the Yoichi distillery of Nikka whisky. It is referred to as the ’Little Lagavulin’ as it is comparable to the Scottish distillery.

This brand is one of the best-aged whisky producers of Japanese whiskies with an ex-bourbon barrel, Japanese Mizunara oak, sherry butt, and ex-wine casks finish.

“Whisky making is an act of cooperation between the blessings of nature and the wisdom of man” – Masataka Taketsuru, Nikka Whisky Founder

Common Japanese Whisky Prices

TypeSizeAverage PriceAlcohol Content
Yamazaki 25-Year-Old Single Malt750mlAround $10,05548%
Hibiki Harmony 12-Yr750mlAround $12743%
Hakushu 12 Year Single Malt 750mlAround $19043%
Hakushu 18 Year Single Malt 750mlAround $75043%
Hakushu 25 Year Single Malt 700mlAround $9,00043%
Nikka Whisky Yoichi Single Malt750mlAround $12545%
Miyagikyo Single Malt750mlAround $10545%
Nikka Whisky from the Barrel750mlAround $9051.4%
Kirin Fuji Sanroku750mlAround $15050.0%
Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu ’The Peated’ 2015 Cask Strength700mlAround $800 62.5%
Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu ’On the Way’ Single Malt700mlAround $75051.5%
Mars Iwai Tradition750mlAround $6540%
White Oak Akashi Single Malt750mlAround $11546%
Karuizawa Vintage Single Cask Malt750mlAround $62,00057.4%

Caution: Japanese Whisky Authentic vs Fake

Since Japanese whisky prices are costing a bomb—you must be careful about getting an authentic bottle. 

Here are some tips to spot a fake Japanese whisky:

  • The low print quality of the label.
  • Crooked or dotted flat line on the rip seal.
  • Misaligned writings.
  • It doesn’t have the same color as the authentic bottle.
  • The fill–level is not met or overly filled.

Compared To Other Whiskies 

Pouring Whiskey Decanter on a Glass

Canadian Whisky

Canadian whiskies mostly use corn as a majority grain in its mash content which is cheaper than most malted barley.

Also, it doesn’t have many legal requirements to produce its whisky, making its bottles lower in price, and you can have the best affordable Canadian whisky sold for around $30 or less.

Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky is comparable to Japanese whisky because of its main ingredient—malted barley, but Scotch whiskies tend to be more peated.

Although Japanese whisky imports many of its components from Scotland, the Japanese distilling process makes it more distinct. You can find a bottle of Scotch for around $50 or less.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most popular whiskey in Japan?

The most popular whiskey in Japan is Yamazaki, produced by Suntory. Yamazaki is highly regarded for its exceptional quality and craftsmanship, earning numerous awards and accolades both domestically and internationally.

It is known for its smooth, balanced flavor profile, with notes of fruit, honey, and oak, characteristic of Japanese whiskey production.

Why is Japanese whisky different?

Japanese whisky is different from other styles of whisky primarily due to its production methods and the influence of Japanese craftsmanship and culture.

Japanese whisky production is heavily inspired by Scotch whisky traditions, with a focus on quality ingredients, precise craftsmanship, and attention to detail.

However, Japanese whisky also incorporates elements of the local environment and culture, resulting in unique flavor profiles and characteristics.

Additionally, Japanese whisky distilleries often utilize a variety of distillation techniques, fermentation processes, and aging methods to create distinct expressions that reflect the Japanese palate and sensibility.

What is special in Japanese whisky?

Several factors contribute to what makes Japanese whisky special and highly sought after by whiskey enthusiasts worldwide. Firstly, Japanese whisky is known for its exceptional quality and attention to detail throughout the production process.

Distilleries in Japan adhere to strict standards of craftsmanship and quality control, resulting in consistently high-quality spirits. Secondly, Japanese whisky often exhibits a delicate and nuanced flavor profile, characterized by elegance, complexity, and balance.

This is achieved through careful blending of different malt and grain whiskies, as well as meticulous aging in a variety of oak casks, including ex-bourbon, sherry, and Japanese Mizunara oak.

Lastly Japanese whisky embodies a deep respect for tradition and innovation, drawing inspiration from both Scotch whisky heritage and local Japanese culture to create whiskies that are both timeless and innovative.

These qualities, combined with the dedication of Japanese whisky makers to push the boundaries of excellence, contribute to the uniqueness and specialness of Japanese whisky on the global stage.

Is Japanese whisky like Scotch or bourbon?

Japanese whisky shares similarities with both Scotch whisky and bourbon but has its own distinct characteristics. Like Scotch whisky, Japanese whisky often employs malted barley in its production and draws inspiration from Scottish whisky-making traditions.

Japanese whiskies can also exhibit a similar complexity, with flavors ranging from floral and fruity to smoky and peaty, akin to some Scotch whiskies.

However, Japanese whisky also differs from Scotch in that it often incorporates techniques and influences from other whisky-producing regions, resulting in a unique fusion of styles.

While bourbon is primarily made from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels, Japanese whisky generally does not adhere to these specific requirements, although some Japanese distilleries may experiment with different grains and aging methods.

Why is Hibiki so expensive?

Hibiki whisky is renowned for its exceptional quality, craftsmanship, and intricate blending techniques, which contribute to its relatively high price point.

Several factors contribute to the expense of Hibiki whisky, including the quality of the ingredients used, the meticulous blending process, and the scarcity of certain expressions.

Hibiki whiskies often incorporate a wide range of malt and grain whiskies aged in various types of casks, resulting in complex and well-balanced flavor profiles that command a premium price.

Additionally, the demand for Japanese whisky, particularly highly regarded brands like Hibiki, has increased significantly in recent years, leading to limited availability and higher prices in the market.

Is Hibiki or Yamazaki better?

The preference between Hibiki and Yamazaki ultimately comes down to individual taste preferences and the specific characteristics desired in a whisky.

Both Hibiki and Yamazaki are highly esteemed Japanese whisky brands produced by Suntory, known for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship.

Hibiki is renowned for its meticulous blending of malt and grain whiskies, resulting in harmonious and well-balanced expressions with complex flavor profiles.

On the other hand, Yamazaki is celebrated for its single malt whiskies, which often exhibit a rich, fruity character with hints of spice and oak derived from aging in various types of casks.

Some whisky enthusiasts may prefer the elegant and refined taste of Hibiki, while others may favor the bold and distinctive flavors of Yamazaki.

Ultimately, the “better” whisky is subjective and depends on individual preferences and experiences.

Is Japanese whiskey better than Scotch?

The comparison between Japanese whisky and Scotch whisky is subjective and depends on individual preferences. Both Japanese whisky and Scotch whisky have their own unique characteristics, flavor profiles, and production methods.

Japanese whisky is often praised for its elegance, complexity, and meticulous craftsmanship, drawing inspiration from Scotch whisky traditions while incorporating Japanese influences.

Similarly, Scotch whisky is esteemed for its diverse range of styles, regional variations, and long-standing heritage.

Whether Japanese whisky is considered “better” than Scotch whisky is a matter of personal taste and appreciation for the distinct qualities of each spirit.

Is Japanese whisky strong?

The strength of Japanese whisky refers to its alcohol content, which is typically measured in terms of alcohol by volume (ABV). Like other types of whisky,

Japanese whisky can vary in strength depending on factors such as the distillation process, aging duration, and blending techniques.

In general, most Japanese whiskies have an ABV ranging from around 40% to 45%, although some expressions may have higher or lower alcohol content.

While Japanese whisky can certainly be robust in flavor and character, its strength is not necessarily indicative of its quality or appeal.

Is Japanese whisky better?

The question of whether Japanese whisky is better is subjective and depends on individual preferences, experiences, and tastes. Japanese whisky has gained widespread acclaim and recognition in recent years for its exceptional quality, craftsmanship, and innovative approaches to whisky-making.

Japanese distilleries are known for their meticulous attention to detail, precise blending techniques, and dedication to producing whiskies of unparalleled elegance and complexity.

However, Scotch whisky also holds a revered status in the world of spirits, celebrated for its rich history, diverse range of styles, and distinctive regional characteristics.

Whether Japanese whisky is considered “better” than Scotch whisky ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific qualities that each individual values in a whisky.

Both Japanese and Scotch whiskies offer unique and rewarding drinking experiences, making them worthy of exploration and appreciation in their own right.

What is Japanese whisky called?

Japanese whisky is simply referred to as “Japanese whisky.” It’s a distilled spirit produced in Japan using traditional whisky-making techniques and often inspired by Scotch whisky production methods.

Japanese whisky has gained global recognition for its exceptional quality and craftsmanship.

Is Japanese whiskey a Scotch?

No, Japanese whiskey is not Scotch. While Japanese whisky draws inspiration from Scotch whisky traditions and techniques, it is produced in Japan, not Scotland.

To be called Scotch whisky, a spirit must adhere to specific regulations outlined by the Scotch Whisky Association, including being distilled and aged in Scotland.

While Japanese whisky may share similarities with Scotch in terms of flavor profiles and production methods, it is a distinct category of whisky with its own unique characteristics.

Which is the costly Japanese whiskey?

One of the most expensive Japanese whiskies is the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky. Released by Suntory, this ultra-rare expression is highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs worldwide.

Due to its limited availability and exceptional quality, the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old commands a high price tag, often reaching tens of thousands of dollars per bottle at auction.

Other Japanese whiskies known for their high prices include limited editions from distilleries such as Karuizawa and Hanyu, as well as aged expressions from renowned brands like Hibiki and Hakushu.

These costly Japanese whiskies are prized for their rarity, complexity, and historical significance within the world of whisky.

How popular is whiskey in Japan?

Whiskey enjoys significant popularity in Japan, with a growing appreciation for both domestic and international varieties. Japanese whiskey has gained widespread recognition for its exceptional quality, craftsmanship, and unique flavor profiles.

The popularity of whiskey in Japan is evident in the country’s thriving whiskey culture, which includes whiskey bars, distillery tours, and annual events celebrating the spirit.

Whiskey is enjoyed by a diverse range of consumers in Japan, from seasoned aficionados to casual drinkers, reflecting its broad appeal and cultural significance.

Does Japan have good whiskey?

Yes, Japan produces exceptional whiskey that is highly regarded worldwide for its quality, craftsmanship, and innovation. Japanese whiskey has earned numerous awards and accolades, cementing its reputation as one of the premier whiskey-producing regions globally.

Japanese distilleries are known for their meticulous attention to detail, precise blending techniques, and commitment to producing whiskies of unparalleled elegance and complexity.

Whether it’s single malt, blended, or grain whiskey, Japan consistently delivers a wide range of expressions that cater to various tastes and preferences, making it a destination for whiskey enthusiasts seeking exceptional quality and craftsmanship.

In Summary

More connoisseurs worldwide are turning towards Japanese whisky because of its fine whiskies made using the right skills and tools, imparted with a rich history.

Like other whiskies, Japanese offers different variations from traditional expressions to single malts and blended whiskies that could range up to more than a hundred thousand dollars.

So if you’re planning to buy a luxurious bottle of Japanese whisky, beware of the fake bottles in the market. Use the tips above to spot a fake bottle.

References:

  1. https://asia.nikkei.com/Life-Arts/Life/Japanese-whisky-reaches-new-heights-ahead-of-centenary 
  2. https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/japan-introduces-new-regulations-to-define-what-qualifies-as-japanese-whisky-022421 
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