What’s the Sudden Big Deal About Yamazaki Whisky?

Everyone from Beyonce to Blue Jays star pitcher Yusei Kikuchi has been promoting the Japanese whisky recently, and for good reason

A bottle and glass of Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara
Last year's limited-edition Yamazaki 18 Year Old Mizunara, celebrating the distillery's 100th anniversary
House of Suntory

After every win, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi shares a $3,000 bottle of Yamazaki 2022 Spanish Oak with his teammates, per a new article in Sports Illustrated (originally reported by Sportsnet). It’s an important bottle in two ways: 2022 was the year the now 32-year-old starter signed with Toronto, and the Japanese whisky reflects Kikuchi’s heritage. Unrelated, the reported price of that bottle appears a little low.

This news comes the same week that saw superstar couple Beyonce and Jay-Z traveling around Japan and enjoying a few Glencairns of Yamazaki and other high-end Japanese whiskies. Beyonce has referenced the whisky multiple times in song and on her social media, with some references dating back to 2015, according to Bottle Raiders.

So, what’s the big deal with Yamazaki?

You’ve probably seen a few headlines about rare Yamazaki bottles selling in the high six figures at auctions. The Yamazaki Distillery is owned by Suntory — one of the leading producers of Japanese whisky and the distiller behind Hakushu, Chita, Kakubin, Hibiki, Suntory Whisky Toki, Legent and Ao, among others. It’s the first and oldest malt whisky distillery in the country; it was founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, who based his whisky on the Scottish model. According to the brand, Torii selected the land of Yamazaki at the foot of Mt. Tennozan for his distillery, due to its “high-quality water source and natural environment.”

An Airport Auction of This 55-Year Old Japanese Whisky Is Nearing $800,000
Available via Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, a reminder that travel retail holds some nearly impossible-to-obtain spirits

It’s exceptional stuff across the board, with the whisky usually aged in a combination of American, Spanish and Japanese Mizunara oak. It’s also extremely pricey. In our review of Yamazaki 55, we said the following: “The oldest-ever and rarest release in the history of The House of Suntory, this 55-year expression was partly distilled in 1960 and aged in Mizunara casks and partly distilled in 1964 and aged in White Oak casks. The final blend was bottled in 2020 — it’s a lovely balance of sweet, woody and bitter (yes, we tried a few sips), but we’d be remiss if we didn’t say it’s $60,000 and the 12- and 18-year are perfectly great and not going to cost you five figures (the standout Yamazaki is the 25-year, but that is, unfortunately, also the cost of a car).”

In other words, your odds of enjoying any of these bottles exponentially increase if you are either a famous baseball player or a superstar singer.


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