US$430,000 Yamazaki 50-year-old Set Record for World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Japanese Whisky

A bottle of 50-year-old Yamazaki first edition was sold at a Taipei auction for a record-setting price at NT$13.51m (about US$429,798), less than a year since its previous record was set in last August. It is now the most expensive single bottle of Japanese whisky.

A bottle of 50-year-old Yamazaki first edition set the auction record for Japanese whisky

Last August, another bottle of 50-year-old Yamazaki first edition was sold for nearly HK$2.7m (US$343,000) in Hong Kong, breaking the auction record for any single bottle of Japanese whisky.

There is a total of three editions of 50-year-old Yamazaki. The first edition was bottled in 2005, the second in 2007 and the third in 2011. Only 50 bottles were produced for the first edition, including the two record-smashing bottles, making it one of the scarcest Japanese whiskies.

The most noticeable difference between the first edition and the other two lies in the words impressed on the bottle, where it reads ‘SUNTORY SINGLE MALT WHISKY "YAMAZAKI”’ for the first edition and ‘THE YAMAZAKI SINGLE MALT WHISKY’ for the other two editions.

What’s so special about this bottle of whisky? Yamazaki distillery, founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, was Japan's first commercial whisky distillery. This oldest expression from the famous Japanese distillery, the whisky was matured in casks made from mizunara (Japanese Oak) before being bottled and released in 2005.

The bottle offered at the present sale carried an estimate of NT$5.5m-11m and was hammered down at NT$11.5m and sold for NT$13.51m (about US$429,798) after an intense bidding.

Besides the two bottles of 50-year-old Yamazaki we mentioned above, the third most expensive bottle of Japanese whisky also goes to 50-year-old Yamazaki, which is of the third edition, bottled in 2011, with only 150 bottles produced. The bottle is signed by Suntory's Master Blender Fukuyo Shinji, accompanied by its original wooden case.

The bottle of 50-year-old Yamazaki third edition was sold for HK$2.33m (US$298,879) in Hong Kong in January 2018.

World’s most expensive single bottle of Japanese whisky

Yamazaki-50 year old. 1st Edition

Auction house: Ravenel Taipei
Sale: Finest and Rarest Wines
Sale date: 31 May 2019

Lot no.: 781
Estimate: NT$5,500,000 - 11,000,000
Hammer price: NT$11,500,000
Price realised: NT$13,512,500 (US$429,798)