Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stocking Your Home Bar with Affordable Japanese Whiskies: 2013 Round-up

As seen on Whiskies R Us in 2011 – adding Japanese whisky to your home bar or collection does not have to be pricey. There has been a flourish of very expensive and collectable Japanese whiskies to hit the market in the last few years; some are well worth every cent, while some are arguably over-hyped, over priced, and generally out of reach financially for the average drinker on a budget. However, there are many affordable mainstream Japanese whiskies (providing you are residing in or visiting the country - if not unfortunately add on shipping costs) that wont burn a hole in your pocket, which are fun, very approachable, and suitable for both novice and experienced drinkers. 

You can get a variety of quality Japanese whiskies including single malts, pure malts (blended malts), and blends to delight in for under 10,000 yen ($112/EUR84). For 2013, Whiskies R Us suggests considering (in view of quality and quantity - for those looking to fill up shelves) the following inexpensive and very adequate drams to enjoy if you are on a budget. Of course, if money isn’t an issue the options are endless when considering the mid to high end categories, something that WRU may also approach and recommend (personal favourites), in a playful way. Stay tuned.

What would you buy taking into account the budget of 10,000 yen with the objective of no-less than five bottles?

Whiskies R Us Selection:

1: Suntory Yamazaki no-age single malt - 350ml - 1,750 yen
2: Nikka From The Barrel blend - 500ml - 1,780 yen
3: Nikka Pure Malt Black blended malt - 500ml - 1,480 yen
4: Nikka Miyagikyo no-age single malt - 500ml - 1,380 yen
5: Nikka Sendai Date blend - 700ml - 2,980 yen

Total: 9,370 JPY / 78 EUR / 105 USD

(Prices may very depending on area)
Note: Nikka From The Barrel and Pure Malt Black are current prices at Bic Camera.


  1. Great article, Clint! All of the malts listed are cracking and it sometimes is hard to believe that they are as affordable as they are. I would not want to miss neither the Nikka From The Barrel nor the Miyagikyo No-age, and my bottle of the Yamazaki No-age is half emtpy!

    1. Cracking malts indeed, Pierre. There were one or two more malts that I had considered but they didn't make the short list, purely as the five I have mentioned are the winners, as a personal choice - with the theme of 10,000 yen and no-less than five bottles.

  2. Ok I'll play. Here are my 5:
    Kirin – Robert Brown (Special Blend) less than 2,000 yen
    Kirin – Emblem, less than 2,000 yen
    Nikka – From The Barrel, about 2,000 yen
    Nikka – Gold & Gold, about 1,800 yen
    Eigashima Shuzou - White Oak Akashi NAS , about 1,050 yen

    Depending on my mood, the weather outside, time of day, etc... any of these 5 inexpensive whiskies will satisfy me.

    1. Mike, to be honest I have yet to try the Emblem. I found it the other day for 1,600 yen so I must grab it for the experience. Interesting choice; it certainly depends on mood that is for sure.

  3. I would possibly looking to the Crescent rather than Emblem at the same price point. Superior IMO and more in tune with the Kirin house style a la 18YO or Evermore. The Emblem closer to a Scottish blend with lots of cereal undertones. Still great to hear about these standards but many not available outside of Japan unfortunately.

    1. That is true Brian, not many of the above selection are available outside of Japan unfortunately. Hopefully this will one day change, it will obviously take some time, especially taking into consideration the time and process involved in getting certain expressions say into the U.S. However, for those fortunate enough to either be residing, visiting, or have family living here these mainstream bottlings are very adequate, those who don't, with patience, will have to wait or pay the shipping fee - which the majority of times justify the outlay. Time will tell but a change can be on the horrizon - we hope anyway!