A Definitive Guide To Buying Japanese Whisky

For this week there will be no whisky review as such but an insight into Japanese whisky, from value for money drops, to where to buy in the world, by the bottle and by the nip.

Japanese Whisky

The demand for Japanese whisky has certainly taken many industry insiders by surprise. Entry level Japanese drams in Australia has quadrupled in price and the premium market is now beyond the reach of an average Australian. So where should you buy your Japanese whiskies from? Let us take a look at the local and the overseas market.

Where to Buy Japanese Whisky?

Personally, I don’t buy any Japanese whiskies in Australia. We tend to be double the price of other markets – in some cases quadrupled. But, if you don’t travel and must buy from Australia I’d go straight to the reputable sellers such as Dan Murphy’s or Nicks (Nicks is an online retailer). If that fails Google is your best friend.

Australian Duty-Free?

If you’re thinking this is a better option then think again. From my recent visit to duty-free at Sydney the prices aren’t much better. Hibiki 21 is going for $900 + while another gem in Taketsuru 17 was $300.00 +

Hakushu Japanese Whiksy


Yes, yes and yes! If you love Japanese whisky I suggest booking a holiday to Japan. It will take a fair bit of hunting to find quality drops (be warned there are no guarantees – even in Japan the popular Japanese whiskies are hard to get). But no doubt once you do you will be very pleased with the price.

I just returned from Tokyo with seven new bottles. Here is what I picked up and what I paid – in brackets are the prices in Australia. These also, in my opinion, happen to be the best value for money whiskies animating out of Japan.

  • Hibiki 21 $480 ($900+)
  • Ichiro’s MWR $120 ($230)
  • Ichiros Malt & Grain $40 ($160)
  • Yamazaki Limited Edition 2017 $120 ($350)
  • Nikka Woody & Mellow $130 ($300)
  • The Chita $30 ($75)

Japanese Whiksy Hibiki 21

Then there are the entry level Japanese whiskies such as the Hibiki Harmony, Taketsuru Pure Malt and Nikka from the Barrel. These can be bought from your local 7-Eleven in Tokyo for around $40 AUD – I KID YOU NOT!

I hunted for whiskies in the two major chains – Liquor Mountain and Shinanoya. Ask staff about the whiskies you are looking for. Do not walk out thinking it’s the same range everywhere – it is not! They don’t understand English very well but are very friendly and always willing to help if you show them a picture of the bottle.

By the Dram?

There are two Suntory owned bars in Tokyo (Hibiya Bar Whisky-S I and Hibiya Whisky-S II) where you can sip on Hibiki 21 for around $25 or go straight for the 30 at only $80 per nip. The same whisky in Australia will be $400 + by the glass (if you can find it that is).

Yamazaki Japanese Whisky

If you really want to take it up a notch do a distillery visit – Hakushu distillery is only 2 hours from Tokyo. At the distillery bar, you will be able to taste Yamazaki 25 and Hakushu 25 for only $30 per nip. In Australia, you can expect to pay $400-$500. You drink two glasses of these and you have paid for your airfare in savings plus it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Another great country for buying Japanese Whisky is in Taiwan. Their pricing is very competitive with a great range. Though, the prices at bars there aren’t as good as Japan.

Happy Hunting Everyone!

Check out more Whisky articles from Pranil.

Notes on the Author – Pranil Chandra is the man behind the Instagram Whisky Blog kyandkey. Pranil holds regular corporate whisky tasting masterclass. Learn more at www.kyandkey.com.au

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