The Yamazaki 55 is the oldest and most valuable whisky ever bottled in Japan. This year a 750 ml of this whisky and was sold for a whopping $8,00,000 (about Rs 65.2 crore) at Sotheby’s auction, making a single shot of the drink cost about Rs 4.7 crore.
First distilled in 1960, the Yamazaki 55 is the oldest single malt whisky in the history of the House of Suntory and is a blend of three exceptional single malts from the 1960s distilled under the supervision of Suntory’s founder Shinjiro Torii and later aged in Mizunara casks.
The right blend was formulated by Suntory’s fifth-generation chief blender Shinji Fukuyo and third-generation master blender Shingo Torii. Together they mastered the signature art of blending it properly and lending it its characteristic depth and complexity after maturing for more than 55 years.
Describing the liquor, Shinji Fukuyo, one of Suntory's chief blenders says in their website, "Very old Scotch Whiskies gave me this impression of them being perfect Greek sculptures with beautiful toned beauty. Instantly impressive as a piece of art. But the Yamazaki 55 is more like an old Buddhist statue. Calm and mysterious. It takes time to take in its inner beauty with the smell of Japanese incense and stripped old wood, like the Toshodaiji Temple in Nara.’’
Aged whiskies are now quite limited in Japan — so much so that Suntory’s aged statement brands have either been discontinued or are only released on highly limited allocation, notes Sotheby's in its website.
"The Yamazaki 55 is the preeminent whisky from this scarce supply, and it sits in a league of its own. This whisky epitomises the key elements collectors search for in a collectible whisky: dark, heavily sherried whisky released in limited numbers with a very high-age statement," it stated. "This is an example of when price is matched not just by rarity, but by quality."
After releasing 100 bottles in 2020 in Japan through a lottery system, Suntory has expanded on the release in 2021 by offering a very limited batch of another 100 bottles to the rest of the world, with a number allocated to key Travel Retail partners, including Gebr Heinemann, Unifree’s joint venture partner at the Turkish gateway.Earlier this year, a bottle of Yamazaki 55 was sold at a duty free store in Istanbul airport for €488,000 which is equivalent to about Rs 4.14 crore.