Saturday, August 11, 2012

Whisky Hunter

The thrill of chasing down a unique whisky of yesteryear can be just as rewarding as indulging in an impressive dram of today. The vast portfolio's of the entire major brands, whether domestic or international, and which are all generally great, can be complex and overwhelming. At any given time a number of new releases that include limited editions, seasonal and commemorative bottlings, and regional whiskies hit the market in huge quantities. But there is more to whisky than the current availability that engulfs every major retailer and that is the line-up of the past: malts and blends that have ceased production, and perhaps the most important; long lost original bottlings from defunct distilleries, which are hidden and still adorn the dusty shelves of unfrequented mom & pop stores. It is satisfying to seek out these forgotten and unique bottlings and to add a bit of history to both your palate and display cabinet.
Bored of frequently visiting chain stores throughout West Japan and often than not leaving empty handed, I decided to approach the way I seek out whisky (specifically domestic whisky for obvious reasons) in a different way: one that does not involve a keyboard or mouse (Internet), or visits to commercial retailers (franchises), but one that involves stamina and a bicycle to seek out all the back street and remote liquor stores of a long lost era throughout Hyogo. This may seem unorthodox and might not be the preferred way of finding something special, unique, and limited for some, but often than not, with a little perseverance, something always comes up. Sure, at times, you come across something that has been sitting on a shelf since the bubble and still priced accordingly to that era (too expensive), but the majority of these old school shops have bottles reasonably priced, arguably a small expenditure to pay for a bit of history.
My adventures have led me to create "Japanese Treasure Troves", which will document my unearthed findings and give a brief outlook of the Japanese whisky bottles of yesteryear that I discover and where I find them. The main focus will not be on the shop itself (introduction), but on the individual bottles I come across that have significance.
Some of these unique finds I will purchase and others I will not, the bottles I do throw in my backpack, which make the journey home (at times a good 4 hours ride), will be followed up with a tasting review at a later time. The main principle behind this documentation is to simply share and make aware when ever possible. Watch out for the “Treasure Trove” side menu that will be coming soon.


  1. Excellent blog entry, Clint. And I am sure that there are many fascinating bottles waiting to be discovered somewhere in your vicinity. I remember the shops that you took me to in the middle of Kobe and my astonishment at seeing what rarities there were. Looking forward to many discoveries!

  2. Always appreciate your encouragement, Pierre. Thank you. Lets see what I can dig up and share.

  3. Clint, happy hunting!

    I can never pass by a Mom & Pop without poking my head in for a quick look-see. It's amazing the amount of old stock that can be found on shelves gathering dust.

    1. Hi Mike, nice to hear from you. Basically every where I go I add on a bit of extra time as there are always shops that pop up. Mum & Pop stores are where all the excitement lays, forget the boring department stores, which are becoming a regular thing IMO. I find the bottles with most dust tend to get discounted when I inquire about them.