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The Nikka Samurai Paradox

by Oliver Klimek on May 23, 2014

Can you imagine paying €180 for a bottle of whisky that is available for €25 elsewhere? Sounds hard to believe but it is true.

The Nikka Gold & Gold Samurai edition is for sale in America for $250. The bottle is also occasionally seen on whisky auctions where it fetches prices above £100. What looks like a gimmick bottle straight from the 1970s is actually a current expression and apparently a Japanese Duty Free exclusive. It currently retails for 3300 Yen.

Now are the buyers outside Japan being ripped off? On first glance it might appear like that. But if this is a Japanese Duty Free exclusicve and both Nikka and the Duty Free shops are serious about it, there is no other way to get a bottle than buying it in person at a Japanese airport. Obviously there is a global demand for this bottle. And this demand has to be fulfilled by the few bottles trickling out of Japan via Duty Free.

The “dusty” design of the bottle helps too, of course. It would not suprise me if many regarded this as a collectible discontinued bottling. The Nikka whiskies available here like Yoichi or the Hibiki blends all have very pretty labels and slickly designed bottles. But the Japanese are much less fussy about bottom shelf whiskies for their domestic market, so the design of the Gold & Gold has not changed for decades.

This shows how irrational the whisky market has become. And it also shows that the whisky marketers are indeed right. With the right garni du jour it is possible to turn just about any whisky into a collectible. Because nothing says “I need to have this!” as loud as a Samurai helmet on top of a bottle. Or a wooden Viking boat.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jro July 7, 2015 at 6:25 pm

Just received one of these as a Fathers Day present from my Neice. It’s as awesome as described in this article.


bill February 6, 2016 at 2:27 am

I have a bottle of this dated 1931. Full unopened with the escutcheons. I think my father brought it back from Japan aftwr ww2


Mary King February 6, 2016 at 7:45 pm

While going through my father’s things, I found an empty Nikki G&G whiskey bottle with a Samurai head and body armor. Is this worth anything, or should I just trash it?

I look forward to hearing from you as to what I should do with this item.


John February 25, 2016 at 12:41 am

Mary King
I’ll buy the empty bottle from you


J Swindells March 11, 2016 at 1:36 am

I have same bottle as above samurai bottle is emty.husband brought it home years ago round about 70s or 80s


josh March 27, 2016 at 10:55 am

just bought one back from seeing mrs in aomori picked it up at Narita duty free for 5000 yen definately never going to open it it looks too awesome to drink so i keep it in its box as an ornament


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