The House of Suntory officially announces the release of the Yamazaki 55, the world’s oldest Japanese whisky, in Singapore.

Vintage whiskies, when released, usually attract attention from a specific type of whisky enthusiast – the high-end whisky collector. Whether they come from closed distilleries, have special significance or are otherwise extremely limited in nature, vintage bottles are pretty much sought-after by those who have sizeable rare collections and a wallet to match.

But even such collectors may baulk at the price tag of this unicorn release from Japan’s Yamazaki. The Yamazaki 55 Years Old became the most expensive Japanese whisky in the world when it fetched a staggering HK$6,200,000 – including 24% buyer’s premium – at a Bonhams auction in Hong Kong back in 2020. That’s over S$1 million. Suntory had released in Japan just 100 bottles in June that year via a lottery system.

A second release of another 100 bottles of the Yamazaki 55 Years Old was announced for this year, and Singapore has scored an allocation of just four bottles.

Bottled in 2020, the Yamazaki 55 effectively represents the essence of Suntory, but also everything that is Japan. The oldest release in its 122-year history, this expression not only pays tribute to Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii, but also has his veritable fingerprints on it. It is a blend of single malts distilled in 1960 – and maybe even older – under Torii’s own supervision, who aged it in Mizunara oak casks (making it possibly among the first whisky in the world to be aged in that Japanese oak).

In 1964 Suntory’s Second Master Blender Keizo Saji continued the process by aging it in American white oak casks. This was followed by Suntory’s fifth-generation Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo, who worked closely with third-generation Master Blender Shingo Torii in blending the final product – bottled at 46% ABV – to encapsulate history in a bottle.

Yamazaki 55 with box

The Yamazaki 55 Year Old also commemorates the latter part of Japan’s Showa era, which represented a major period of change for Japan, and also for Suntory. Presented in a crystal bottle with a calligraphic “Yamazaki” engraved through sandblasting, it comes complete with real gold dust and lacquer on the age marking. The bottle’s opening itself is wrapped in handmade Echizen washi paper, and then bound with a Kyo-kumihimo plaited cord, a traditional Kyoto craft from Kyoto. Each bottle comes in a bespoke box made from native Japanese Mizunara wood and coated with Suruga lacquer.

Now just four of these bottles have landed in Singapore.

One of those bottles will be officially unveiled and opened at a whisky dinner next month that comes in at S$7,688 per person, representing one of the very rare opportunities for whisky lovers to sample a taste of history.

As for the other three? Considering prices have already reached over US$1 million, we’re rather sure each will fetch even more now.

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