If you’re struggling to find a gift for the person who has everything, then look no further than a bottle of whisky worth more than average Auckland house, but there’s just one small catch – you probably shouldn’t open it.
For the price of a reasonable four-bedroom home in the city of sails you could be the proud owner of 750ml of 55-year-old Japanese single malt whisky – the Yamazaki 55.
Taupō-based bespoke online whisky retailers, Whisky and More, have advertised the Yamazaki for a cool $1,489,000.
No, it’s not a typo, that’s almost one and a half million dollars. For 750ml of whisky. At $1989 a ml.
A standard 30ml shot would set you back $59,560.
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Whisky and More director Floris Heijdenrijk said a bottle of the very rare whisky was made available to them by their European partner and if purchased in New Zealand would be hand-delivered to its new owner anywhere in the country.
However, Heijdenrijk said with only two or three bottles available on the open market, the Yamazaki was more of an investment option for those with a few million up their sleeve.
“It’s an amazing investment and prices for that particular bottle have gone up $300,000 in just over a year.
“As they become rarer, the prices go up. These go purely to investors, and they will often sell them on a few years later.”
He said it would be highly unlikely anyone would drink it.
“It’s a real collectors’ display piece, a showpiece.”
But, he said he has one customer who has been eyeing it up.
“He’s serious and is really keen on the bottle. He said he’d buy it at the end of the year – only if his accountant lets him.
“He has some very expensive bottles in his collection, including the 81-year-old Macallan (The Reach single malt) he bought from us for around $390,000.”
Heijdenrijk said a big part of their business was now sourcing and selling very rare whiskies from all over the world.
“Our name is getting out there, all from our little base here in Taupō.”
He said anyone buying the whisky would have it air-freighted to New Zealand in a large wooden box.
“It would be in a wooden crate, about a metre by a metre, like an ancient Egyptian artefact.
“We would collect it and then hand-deliver it to the new owner. It’s my job to take it out of the crate, very carefully.
“It’s all insured as well, you can’t take any risks.”
Anyone crazy enough to open the bottle and try a nip would find a whisky with a deep amber colour, distinctive of Mizunara (Japanese oak) casks.
According to its tasting notes, the Yamazaki has a “robust aroma redolent of sandal wood” and a “sweet, mature bouquet like well-ripened fruit”.
“A soft, smooth first sip that blossoms in the mouth with flavour. A mixture of sweet and slightly bitter, followed by a woody note from the Mizunara cask.
It has a “slightly bitter” finish with a “fragrance like scented wood and a hint of smokiness” and a “sweet, rich, lingering finish”.
Whisky is usually associated with the highlands and islands of Scotland, but over the years Japanese distillers have started producing whisky to rival any top quality Scotch.
The Yamazaki is a blend of two cask whiskies, a Mizunara cask whisky distilled in 1960 and a White Oak cask whisky distilled in 1964 by its maker, The House of Suntory, and was bottled in 2020.
Fifth generation chief blender Shinji Fukuyo said, in an accompanying description, his Yamazaki 55 was “the House of Suntory’s tribute to the passage of time”.
“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.”