Reflecting on whisky prices

In 2013 Karuizawa fever was building ferocity for the stella launch of skyrocketing prices. I sensed a slim chance to experience Karuizawa before it was to late when i found some little 20cl vintage, single cask bottles WB at They had a few of them going for around €60 each but they were only available to purchase in Germany. During planning my trip to Hamburg, all the bottles were duly sold. Today those 20cl bottles fetch well over €1000.

In 2014, there i was in the stunning Hedonism wine & whisky shop in London deliberating whether i should buy a Karuizawa 1999 & 2000/2012 Tokyo BarShow single cask 2565 61.6% for £199 WB, whilst waiting for a Glenmorangie tasting to start.karuizawa-tokyo-bar

I didn’t have the money which made the decision easier [sort it] and i didn’t think the whisky inside was worth the price. In other words i couldn’t justify the price on the juice alone. Haha, it’s a shame i haven’t got a business brain nor money. Two years later the same bottle sits in Hedonism’s UV protected glass display case for [see pic left]:

Not to miss out again i queued up for 90 minutes on the morning of TWE show 2014 to purchase the Karuizawa 29yo 2014 Geisha label TWE Bourbon cask 8897 53.9% for £375. I was snubbed for buying the bourbon over the sherry Geisha but i thought the bourbon was better juice. I like to think Hedonism’s current price difference between the twins reflects this [see pic right]:karuizawa-twins

Those kind of opportunistic situations don’t seem to arise so much in 2016 but i do think there are ways to get decent juice for decent prices. i have simply adjusted my sight to smaller targets with the same goal, buying liquid gold for drinking. Here’s a a small handful of excellent/old & rare miniatures i’ve purchased over the last few months, each for under £5:

  • Glen Elgin 1971 19yo Cadenhead 50.4%
  • North Port 1970 G&M brown label 40%
  • Dalwhinnie 1963 G&M brown label 40%
  • Glen Scotia 1977 13yo Cadenhead 58.8%
  • Imperial 12yo [early 1990’s] James MacArthur 65%

Whisky often from closed distilleries from the 60’s & 70’s, (many that Serge et al have scored 90+ points), are still available for the price of a pint of mild, at a staggering £-to-ml ratio. I imagine in the next few years we will be kicking ourselves for not getting in on the little action too. Anyway, forget everything i just said [grabs for the Neuralyzer].

Remember the Karuizawa ‘Spirit of Asama’ that came out a few years ago for around £48? Let’s ponder how much that is currently selling for at auction whilst sipping from an open bottle, courtesy of Nick’s fabulous living library.

Karuizawa ‘Spirit of Asama’ TWE 48% WB86.45[95] WF87 WM87[1]

  • N: Tomato-Worcestershire sauce-tamari combo, marzipan, plasticine,….i could go on and on with regards to descriptors but let’s just say it’s very open to suggestion. Somewhat old-style flavour-wise with vibrancy. The next day the nose is fully fungal with ginger, soy,…, it’s a proper oriental dish.karuizawa-spirit
  • T: Ok, yeah – that’s nice. Stands out clearly from the five other sherried whiskies i’ve tried tonight with deep sherry notes that sit in-between the rubbery Glenrothes and the grainy Glendronach 15 Revival – but yet with a deeper, richer and denser oriental sherry style.
  • F: Rubbery sherry, shoe polish, cognac, gunpowder sulphur,…
  • C: Yes, I know it’s one of god’s gifts and everything and it’s very good but of course it’s not perfect. There’s plenty of complexity on the nose and it tastes fab, but the resulting finish is,…  a little too much sherry influence – an influence that seems to mask the underlying spirit somewhat. These were merely niggles when this was released at just under £50 and this is a blend of what was left over pretty much, but at the ridiculous prices this bottle now fetches, I’d have no qualms in selling unopened bottles in order to reinvest in other bottles and miniatures!

Scores 87 points


How much for these six do you reckon?


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