Suntory to Release Ultra-Rare 55-Year Yamazaki Single Malt

The bottles will be sold to a few lucky lottery winners.

After a decade of marriage and two co-headlining world tours, Beyoncé and Jay-Z finally released their first full-album collaboration in 2018. The record, which came out under The Carters name, looked at the past, present, and future of their relationship, and was described by one critic as the "fifth act of a hip-hop and R&B Shakespearean comedy."

It also had a lot of high-dollar name-dropping, which is exactly what you both want and expect from the couple who have been called "America's royal family." In the album's closer, "LOVEHAPPY," they trade verses while casually mentioning Alaïa boots, Joel Arthur Rosenthal's ultra-exclusive Paris jewelry store, and "sippin' Yamazaki on the rocks."

Bottles of Yamazaki Whisky
Bottles of award-winning Japanese Suntory Yamazaki single malt whisky, on display at the 'Whisky Live Tokyo 2012, Tokyo International Bar Show.'. Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images

In the past few years, Suntory's flagship Japanese whisky has become a Jay-and-Bey worthy status symbol, as dwindling supplies have driven the prices toward the stratosphere. In August 2018, a bottle of 50-year-old Yamazaki—one of only 50 bottles the distillery produced—sold at auction for HK$2,695,000 ($343,318), a price that exceeded its presale estimate by some $40,000. The bottle also set a new record for the most expensive single bottle of Japanese whisky.

But if you have five-figures just wasting space in your bank account, you could pick up a bottle of its rare 55-year-old Yamazaki single malt later this year. The Japan Times reports that only 100 bottles will be sold, and potential buyers will be selected through a lottery. It'll also cost a cool ¥3.3 million ($30,313) including tax.

“We were concerned that we had not been able to deliver anything new for a long time regarding the Yamazaki brand,” Kengo Torii, the head of Suntory’s whisky division, told Reuters of the distillery's decision to release the 55-year now. According to Suntory chief blender Shinji Fukuyo, the whisky has a sweet and woody flavor, "with a mature fruity aroma, and a long aftertaste." (For $27 Gs, you'd better hope that aftertaste lingers.)

Suntory currently has three whiskies in its Yamazaki range, including 12, 18, and 25-year varieties. If those are among your favorites, it's probably not a bad idea to stock up on an extra bottle or two now: sales of Japanese whiskies are expected to increase by seven percent in the next two years, and distilleries are already struggling to meet the current demand.

Earlier this month, Nikka Whisky told its Japanese suppliers that it would be suspending sales of its 17, 21, and 25 Year Old varieties of Taketsuru Pure Malt whisky (although it will continue to stock a no-age statement version Taketsuru Pure Malt). Losing those three whiskies means that Nikka will have discontinued six of its age-statement whiskies in the past five years, and it has "temporarily suspended" its Nikka Coffey Malt and Nikka Coffey Grain.

Suntory has already pulled two of its own top-sellers too, the Hibiki 17 (which was featured in Lost in Translation), and Hakushu 12 (which, to my knowledge, Bill Murray has never sold on camera).

Both Nikka and Suntory have pledged to put millions of yen toward increasing their whisky production capabilities, including adding tanks in their distilleries and constructing additional facilities where barrels can be stored during the aging process. But the process is part of the problem: despite investing in these much-needed upgrades, those aged whiskies still won't appear on shelves for several more years.

Regardless, any interested Yamazaki 55-year buyers can still fill out an online purchase application between February 5 through 14—although the lottery is limited to Japanese residents who have a Japanese delivery address. The official sale date is scheduled for June 30.

Hey Beyoncé, any chance you could help us out with this one?

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