Department stores in Kansai have been a little on the bland side recently when considering whisky purchases. Of course purely an opinion, but the majority of the big guns in the retail industry are simply not offering any thing exciting to justify a visit, especially when it comes to domestic spirit, and in comparison to their stores in the Kanto area. However, things are beginning to look a bit brighter. A bit of excitement has made its way to the Hankyu, Umeda department store, and its got nothing to do with the lush revamp of the building’s exterior. The relocation, layout, and increased selection of all the beverage departments: Whisky, Wine, Sake, and Sochu have added a slight thrill back into shopping.
The whisky corner, which up until a week ago was situated on the first floor, has been moved to basement two and now sports a larger selection (both Japanese and Scotch) in its stylish set-up than it did before. Some of the domestic standouts that Wine & Spirits Japan offers are Ichiro’s Malt and Grain 25 and 33-year olds respectively. Although nothing overly new, these bottlings amongst some impressive Scotch are generally not seen around Umeda, making everything that bit more worthwhile.
The renewal also sees the whisky corner flanked by Suntory, who have an equally impressive stand as well as selection: 2012 Yamazaki Cask Collection (minus the six bottles of Mizunara that were available on the renewal opening day, which were snapped up immediately), Hakushu 2012 Heavily Peated, Hakushu and Yamazaki 18 and 25-year olds, assorted special edition and commemorative Hibiki bottlings, and for those interested the new bottle run/packaging of the Yamazaki and Hakushu NAS. Sure, there are no private bottlings like we often see and hear about from the Isetan group, and at times purchasing from the big guns can be a few dollars dearer, but it’s a step forward. Lets hope department stores begin to lift their game.