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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.

{ 1 comment… read it 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.


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