The history of Suntory Yamazaki
In 1923, Shinjiro Torii envisioned a whisky filled with the essence of Japanese nature and hand-crafted by artisans through a patient process of enhancing the work of nature.
He dreamt of creating subtle, refined, yet complex whisky that would suit the delicate palate of the Japanese and enhance their dining experience.
Though initially inspired by traditional Scottish whisky, Torii envisioned a Japanese approach by choosing a terrain and climate completely different from those of Scotland. Torii chose the region of Yamazaki, on the outskirts of Kyoto as the birthplace of Japanese whisky.
There is a total of three editions of 50-year-old Yamazaki. The first edition was bottled in 2005, the second in 2007 and the third in 2011. Only 50 bottles were produced for the first edition, including the two record-smashing bottles, making it one of the scarcest Japanese whiskies.
The most noticeable difference between the first edition and the other two lies in the words impressed on the bottle, where it reads ‘SUNTORY SINGLE MALT WHISKY “YAMAZAKI”’ for the first edition and ‘THE YAMAZAKI SINGLE MALT WHISKY’ for the other two editions.
What’s so special about this bottle of whisky? Yamazaki distillery, founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, was Japan’s first commercial whisky distillery. This oldest expression from the famous Japanese distillery, the whisky was matured in casks made from mizunara (Japanese Oak) before being bottled and released in 2005. Besides the two bottles of 50-year-old Yamazaki we mentioned above, Third edition, bottled in 2011, with only 150 bottles produced. The bottle is accompanied by its original wooden case.
When the Yamazaki 50 release 2005 first edition was first released, the retail price was no more than $ 10,000 the same when both the second edition was released in 2007 and also when the third edition was released in 2011. Then when the whiskey market did not look like it does today, the market thought it was a very high price for a bottle of whiskey.
Over the years, this series of Yamazaki beats 50 record after record at the various auction houses around the world. There seems to be no upper limit to how much these bottles can go for at auction. Many collectors see these bottles as much more than just a whiskey bottle, many claim to buy some history of Yamazaki and also of Suntory.
Today, it is very rare to see any of these bottles at auction, but the few times they have been at auction, all of these bottles have broken record after record.
The record for the first edition 2005, which is by far the rarest and most expensive of them, was June 2019 at the auction house Ravenel
in Taipei when the hammer price was 430,000 USD and probably the bottle would go for a much higher price today.
In the year 2020, 100 bottles of Yamazaki 55 year old were also released for about 27,550 USD. The market was already aware before the release that this bottle would go for a much higher price on the secondary market and also on the auction houses.
In August 2020, the 55-year-old Yamazaki arrived at Bonham’s auction house in Hong Kong and would have the eyes of the whole world focused on him to see what the price of this bottle’s hammer would be.
Yamazaki 55 year old went for a stunning price of HK $ 6.2 million (US $ 795,000) and set a new record for the most expensive japanese whiskey ever.
Daniel Lam, director of wine and whiskey, Asia, said: “The stunning price sets a new milestone for the Japanese whiskey market, testament to collectors’ desire and determination to acquire the very best the market has to offer.
Yamazaki 50 release 2005 – 50 bottles
Yamazaki 50 release 2007 – 50 bottles
Yamazaki 50 release 2011 – 150 bottles
Yamazaki 55 release 2020 – 100 bottles
Probably the rarest japanese whiskey bottles in the world and one of the rarest whiskey of them all.