Is Japanese Whiskey Cheaper in Japan?

06 de June, 2023Shopify API

There's no denying that Japanese whiskey has taken the world by storm over the past few years. This spirit has earned a reputation for being smooth, complex, and full of character. As more and more people develop a love for these classic Japanese whiskies, it's only natural to wonder whether they can be found at a more affordable price in their country of origin.

So, the question on everyone's mind is whether Japanese whiskey is cheaper in Japan. As it turns out, it's not always a simple answer. While there are certainly some areas where Japanese whiskey can be found for a lower price in Japan, it's not a blanket rule. It all depends on where you're looking and what you're after. Of course, it's hard to ignore the allure of purchasing a quality bottle of Japanese whiskey from the very place where it was crafted

Now if you know whiskey, you know that there are many different types of whisky available. Popular types of whiskey include Scotch, Bourbon, Canadian whiskey, and Irish whiskey. But have you tried Japanese whiskey?

Japanese whiskey is a lot more recent creation and was first made in the late 1800s and was made commercially available only in the 1920s. 

The Japanese have a way of putting their Japanese magic on things and refining them. From electronics to cars to food, the Japanese have made a statement in every area. 

So it is only fitting that they make some of the finest whiskey in the world. Japanese whiskey is produced using a distillation process that is similar to that of Scotch whiskey. 

Japanese whiskey is typically made from malted barley and aged in wooden barrels. The type of wood enhances and adds flavour to the whiskey. Popular barrels used include wine casks, sherry vasks, white oak casks, Spanish oak casks, and even pre-used bourbon barrels.

Cost of Whiskey in Japan

As a whiskey lover, one of the things that may interest you is knowing whether Japanese whiskey is cheaper in Japan. Well, the short answer is yes - Japanese whiskey is cheaper in Japan. In fact, it is nearly half the price that you might pay for it in other parts of the world.

The costs of Japanese whiskey in Japan may vary depending on the type and brand. However, the prices are relatively lower compared to other countries; mainly due to taxes, import duties, and shipping fees. This means that an average-aged bottle of Japanese whiskey, which would cost you around $150 to $200 in the US, can be found in Japan for $60 to $80.

Moreover, whiskey is an integral part of the Japanese culture, with great pride taken by whiskey producers in Japan. You can enjoy wide varieties of locally produced whiskey in Japan while taking a stroll in leading eateries, local bars, and supermarkets. Finally, if you have a great appetite for Japanese whiskey, visiting Japan may serve you right as you get to indulge yourself in a great tasting experience, and at affordable prices.

Yamazaki whisky price in Japan

Yamazaki whisky, the quintessential Japanese whiskey, is one of the most sought-after spirits worldwide. For many, tasting it is a bucket-list experience. But is it cheaper in Japan, its country of origin? The answer is both yes and no. Yamazaki's prices in Japan are not necessarily lower compared to other countries. However, the availability of different Yamazaki expressions is much more extensive in Japan than outside of it.

For instance, the Yamazaki Limited Edition 2021, which is sold out worldwide, can still be found in Japan - but at a premium price. On average, an entry-level Yamazaki 12-year-old bottle in Japan costs around ¥7,000, which is roughly $65. However, the price can go up to ¥15,000 for special limited-edition releases or bottles with an older age statement.

Keep in mind that premium prices do not always guarantee a better taste. The market is more influenced by supply and demand than by quality. In conclusion, while it is true that Yamazaki is not necessarily cheaper in Japan, the selection is wider, making it easier for enthusiasts to find and collect rare and sought-after expressions.

Suntory whisky price in Japan

When it comes to Suntory whiskey prices in Japan, the answer is a resounding yes! There's no denying the fact that Japanese whiskey is much cheaper in its country of origin than anywhere else in the world. Many whiskey enthusiasts come all the way to Japan to get their hands on some of the best Suntory whiskey brands such as the Yamazaki and Hibiki series.

As an beer taster, I don't experience the taste of whiskey but I know enough to say for sure that Japanese whiskey is something special. It's not just about the taste, but also the experience of enjoying whiskey that has been crafted with incredible attention to detail.

Top Japanese Whiskey under 100

Unfortunately, nowadays, there are many cheap and fake whiskeys that are being sold as Japanese whiskey for very high prices. Finding good quality whiskey that is budget friendly has become quite difficult lately.

Here is a list of the best Japanese whiskey under 100 for you to try out!

Best Japanese Whiskey under 100 Average Price Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
Suntory Whisky Toki $30 - $35 43%
Hibiki Suntory Whisky Japanese Harmony $90 - $100 43%
Nikka Whisky From the Barrel $80 - $100 51.4%
Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky $65 - $85 45%
Ohishi Sherry Cask Whisky $75 43.3%
Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky $85 45%
Iwai Mars Whisky $35 40%
Mars Whisky Iwai 45 $40 45%
White Oak Akashi Japanese Blended Whisky $50 40%

Suntory Whisky Toki

In Japanese “Toki” means time. Suntory Whisky Toki is a classic and the perfect place to begin if it is your first time trying Japanese whiskey. This whiskey was strategically released at a time when classic whiskeys were not easily available on the market. 

Toki’s blend is mostly made of Hakushu malt and Chita grain whiskies along with a hint of Yamazaki malt. The whiskey i saged in American oak casks and some Spanish oak casks as well. 

What makes Toki an ideal choice is that it is great for cocktails as well. Not many Japanese whiskeys can be used in cocktails. 

This smooth whiskey has a subtle sweetness and spiced finish that comes from white pepper and ginger.

Check it out here!

Hibiki Suntory Whisky Japanese Harmony

Hibiki Whiskey is well known for its beautiful blend that is smooth and light. It replaced the Hibiki 12 year in 2015. 

Hibiki Suntory Whisky is one the mot popular blended whiskeys in the world. This is also one of the most affordable whiskeys when compared to the other Hibiki whiskeys. 

Hibiki Suntory Whisky Japanese Harmony is a combination of Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita whiskeys. The whiskey is aged mostly in mizunara Japanese oak casks. 

Like the Toki, this whiskey is a great choice for cocktails like the Manhattan. Personally, I think Hibiki works best on the rocks. 

This amber coloured whiskey features a nose of lychee, rose and a hint of rosemary. It has a sweetness to it and a subtle long finish, and you can taste the mizunara. 

Check it out here!

Nikka Whisky From the Barrel

Nikka’s From the Barrel is currently one of the most popular Japanese whiskeys. It used to be available at a much lower price until the Whisky advocate crowned it their Whisky of the Year. Now it is priced close to a $100.

This whiskey is the result of a blend of Yoichi and Miyagikyo malt whiskeys, with column distilled grain whiskey. Bottled at 51.4% ABV, there is also a touch of some Ben Nevis of Scotland. 

What makes this complex formula so appealing is the blending of more than 100 different batches of malt and grain whiskeys. The whiskey is then aged in used barrels.

This sweet and soft whiskey is great for cocktails. It features flavours like honeyed malt, dried fruit, and spices. 

Check it out here!

Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey

Let’s start off by saying that there is no coffee in this whiskey. This whiskey gets its name from Aeneas Coffey, who invented the continuous still in 1830.

With a grain bill of 95%, the whiskey has a light and creamy nature. It is matured in old casks  that were originally made from American oak. This adds a sweet flavour to the whiskey. 

Many say that Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey is somewhat similar to Japanese Bourbon without the heavy char. It works well in cocktails like Old Fashioned and Manhattan. 

Check it out here!

Ohishi Sherry Cask Whisky

As the name suggests, this Ohishi whiskey is matured in sherry casks. Rice whiskey is rather soft and takes up the features of the sherry cask soon. 

This whiskey has tasting notes of dried fruits and nutmeg. Ohishi is probably one of the most exciting occurrences in the history of Japanese whiskey. 

Ohishi Sherry Cask Whisky is bottled at 43.3% ABV and is one of the more affordable whiskeys on our list. 

Check it out here!

Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky

When compared to Coffey Grain, Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky is a lot more sturdy. It is made fron 100% malted barley and matured in old casks. This hhekps to enhance the maltiness and silky texture of the the whiskey. 

Bottles at 45% ABV, this whiskey is unique and is produced in a pot still. Hence it is referred to as a grain whiskey instead of a single malt whiskey. 

Check it out here!

Iwai Mars Whisky

Iwai Mars Whisky is one of the most affordable Japanese whiskeys. It is similar to a mild Japanese Bourbon since it is aged in used Bourbon casks. 

The whiskey is made with 75% corn and 25% malted barley.  It has a semi sweet and creamy flavour and features hints of vanilla, apple, and butterscotch. 

The unique character of this whiskey makes it perfect for cocktails. It also is good for shots. 

Mars Whisky Iwai 45

Another super affordable Japanese whiskey is Mars Whisky Iwai 45. Bottled at 45% ABV, it is very similar to the Iwai Mars Whisky mentioned above. 

It has fruity notes of pear and vanilla. It is made of mostly corn and a little malted barley and rye. 

You can enjoy this robust whiskey on the rocks and in cocktails as well. It is a definite must try for whisky enthusiasts. 

White Oak Akashi Japanese Blended Whisky

Akashi whiskey is a comparatively smaller brand of whiskey. The White Oak distillery uses a pair of copper pot stills to produce their whiskeys.

Bottled at 40% ABV, this whisky is similar to a blended Scotch whiskey. It has a smooth and light texture with a subtle hint of peat. 

This whiskey is the result of the handiwork of a sake expert and is aged in cask types including shochu, bourbon, and sherry. It works best with cocktails like the Penicillin and Manhattan. 

Things to know about Japanese whiskey:

  • First things first- The spelling. The Japanese took inspiration from the Scottish folk when making whiskey. This includes the double distilling process of malted or peated barley. The Scottish people spell whiskey without the ‘e’ and so the Japanese follow this as well. 
  • Japanese whiskey is hard to find. Nowadays, many cheap versions are being passed off as authentic Japanese whiskey at exorbitant prices. So beware!
  • Japanese whiskey is very similar to Scotch. Japanese whiskey is constantly changing as distillers aim to refine their whiskeys. 
  • Some of the best foods to pair with Japanese whiskey highballs are smokey foods like burgers, meats like beef and chicken, spicy foods, and desserts.

Is Japanese whiskey real whiskey?

Japan is known to produce some of the best whiskeys in the liquor world. However, due to the weak laws and regulations in Japan, there are many cheap imports that come in from Scotland and Canada that are passed off as Japanese whiskey.

How do you drink Japanese whiskey?

Japanese whiskey can be drunk just like any other whiskey. Here are some ways that Japanes whiskey is best drunk:
- On the rocks
- Highball
- Neat
- Half rock
- With water
- Hot whiskey
- In cocktails

Why is Japanese whisky called “whisky” without the e?

Japanese whiskey is inspired by scotch whiskey. The Scottish people spell whiskey without the e and so the Japanese follow this as well.

Can Japanese whiskey be used in cocktails?

Yes, Japanese whiskeys can be used in cocktails. The Highball is a popular drink that can be made with Japanese whiskey. Japanese whiskeys with fruity notes and a sweet flavour work very well in cocktails.

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