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Bowmore Mizunara Cask – £450+ Surcharge Per Bottle For A Finishing Cask — Dramming
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Bowmore Mizunara Cask – £450+ Surcharge Per Bottle For A Finishing Cask

by Oliver Klimek on August 19, 2015

A while ago I made the decision not to comment on indivudual bottle prices anymore on this blog. There are just too many overpriced offerings these days. But I will make an exception for the new Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish. 

This No Age Statement whisky was officially presented yesterday, and the price tag had just about anyone surprised: £750 per bottle, or €1000+. Supposedly this is whisky from the 1990s that was put into Japanese Mizunara oak casks for the final three years. This means that the whisky is between 15 and 25 years old. 

The missing age statement doesn’t actually interest me very much. This price is already beyond “overpriced NAS”. I would have written this article as well if the whisky was officially 25 years old. 

Now Mizunara oak is something very special and very rare. Suntory only makes 100 casks from it each year. Luckily Bowmore did not have to buy their casks on the open market since the distillery is owned by Beam Suntory. So the financial impact of these casks on Bowmore is difficult to estimate. 

Bowmore’s 25 year old currently sells for £287 the the Whisky Exchange. This is already quite a steep price, but that’s the way the whisky market has taken in recent years. With a retail price of £750 for the Mizunara Cask Finish this means that at the very least £450 of the price of each bottle is charged solely for the finishing cask. 

The expression is limited to 2000 bottles. £450 multipled by 2000 is £900,000. Assuming it was a batch of 10 Mizunara oak barrels this relates to £90,000 additional revenue per barrel compared to the regular Bowmore 25. Hands up who thinks that 90 grand for an empty cask, however rare it may be, is justified?

Of course I am aware that the price reflects the demand Bowmore sees for this whisky. Undoubtedly they expect some spill-over from the current craze for Japanese whisky (thank you Mr Murray for that) that has had prices skyrocketing. If Bowmore’s expectations are met, Scotch whisky’s obsession with wood has reached a new peak, both from an industry and a buyer’s perspective.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Bram Hoogendijk August 19, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Oliver, I totally agree with you that the retail price for this Bowmore is outrageous. However, Bowmore does not charge an extra £450 per bottle. I think that it would be more fair if you made the calculation based on the price Bowmore charges to the importers/wholesalers, who then sell it to the retailers who, in their turn, sell it to the consumer. Also, don’t forget the transport charges and the very greedy taxman.
I am sure that they all make a “more than” decent profit on a bottle of this “special” Bowmore.
However, based on their selling price, the price of a cask will then still be ridiculously high, but not £450.
I am not playing the devil’s advocate, I agree with your point of view but the price per cask will be significantly lower than the £450.

Reply

Oliver Klimek August 19, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Transport and tax is already included in the price for a regular bottle. I agreee that not all of the £450 go to Bowmore directly. But of course also the wholesale price for the 25 yo is lower than retail. Unfortunately I don’t know the wholesale prices for the 25 yo and the Mizunara. But the difference between those will go directly to Bowmore, and I am sure it will be a few hundred quid.

And if the whisky is in fact younger than 25 years, this amount will increase even more.

Reply

kallaskander August 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Hi there,

the price begs the questions of why? and for whom?

I read nothing about Mizunara casks made from 400 year Mizunara bonsai wood.
Building casks from matchstick sized staves could explain some of the price – but not all.

So my dear friends at Beam Suntory why did you make the effort and for whom are the 2000 bottles?
Not for me that much I know myself.

Greetings
kallaskander

Reply

SmokyBeast August 19, 2015 at 2:48 pm

CLEAR THE SHELVES! I’m going to buy three of these and display them next to my collection of Michter’s Celebration and Macallan Reflexxxion. Then on a special occasion I will crack one open and drink it with a splash of Diet Coke.

Reply

Tony August 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm

I cant believe you would desecrate such whisky by adding Diet Coke.

Surely only full fat Coke is good enough for such a dram?

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ssl August 20, 2015 at 7:54 am

They are looking for either very rich customers or not very clever ones.

I can find independent Bowmore from 89 for £130.

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Jeff August 20, 2015 at 12:37 pm

We’re told here that the whisky spent 3 whole years in “the super casks”, but having to guess at the total age is another good example of people’s recent obsession with wood but also, incredibly, the new-taught indifference to time IN wood via NAS; makes no sense as cask influence is a time-sensitive thing, but there you go. It’s all about the casks, casks, casks because that can be used as a selling point, but not about the age, age, age, because a lot of the NAS being pushed doesn’t have much to speak of proportional to price. Talking about Mizunara staves is much more impressive than reflecting upon the fact that a £750 whisky falls “somewhere” between 15 and 25 years. What casks it’s been in for the final 36 months is somehow oh SO much more important than where it’s spent “somewhere” between 144 and 264 months – or if it actually spent that long anywhere at all if no one feels like parting with the information on any given product.

The price would still be outrageous, but at least the logic would be internally consistent if it were an official 25: casks matter because time in casks matter. To argue the former but not the latter is just industry voodoo. How CAN casks matter if time spent in them does not? If wood influence isn’t time-dependent, why is a three-year finish so impressive and why wouldn’t it make just as much sense to run the whisky through a Mizunara sluice to claim the same pedigree and pricing? After all, the whisky WOULD have ACTUAL contact with that magical Japanese oak!

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Steffen August 21, 2015 at 7:16 am

I am poor. There is so much whisky I want to buy.

I like it when distilleries themselves helps me limit my choices

Steffen

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Josh @ A Dram Good Drink August 22, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I just don’t see any reason for this absurd price premium. Sure, Mizunara oak is expensive, but I can’t see cask cost alone justifying *that* price. There’s so much amazing whisky available for for lower prices.

Reply

BrianBlessed August 23, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Actually Suntory did charge the full price for the casks…. and no Suntory didn’t want it done but it was forced through… so many lies to get this product out… as usual.

Reply

kallaskander August 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

Hi there,

it must be good. All the care and effort that went into the production 😎

but even then I am not sure what to do with something like this….

http://whiskyforeveryone.blogspot.de/2015/08/review-bowmore-mizunara-cask-finish.html

Greetings
kallaskander

Reply

Jeff August 24, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Yeah, the price justifications are pretty shaky to me:

1) a truly innovative single malt – what innovation (see below)?
2) whiskies included are of mixed ages 16-25 years old – never been done before?
3) finished in a very rare type of cask that has never been transported out of Japan – Ok, so does the rarity actually make it better than other casks?
4) bottled at cask strength – again, never been done before?
5) only 2,000 bottles ever – so smallest release ever… or what?

Reply

Josh @ A Dram Good Drink August 24, 2015 at 4:55 pm

I recognize that Mizunara oak is rare and expensive, and it’s cool that it’s being used for the first time to finish a Scotch whisky, but I really doubt that justifies the (frankly absurd) price premium.

Prices for older whiskies are also climbing, and if the whiskies in here are (supposedly) 16-25 years old, again, I understand a bit of a price bump, but not *that* much of one. And for that matter, if you want to market this as a rare old whisky, why not put that age statement on there? Are they afraid that a “16 years old” statement would scare people off from paying such a ludicrous price?

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Gal Granov (@galg) August 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Totally agree. the pricing is super ridiculous. Mizunara cask. the holy grail. oh really 😉

i want to meet the suckers who buy this stuff for 750 quid and drink it… or the ones that buy it on the 2nd market for more…

sad.

Reply

JA February 13, 2016 at 6:59 pm

So I happened upon this bottle at LAX duty free for the whopping price of $1050 and after doing some googling came across this site. If they only released 2000 how the heck are 4 bottles just sitting at Duty Free???

Reply

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