Finding information on Japanese Whisky is almost as hard as finding a bottle in the United States, but the rarest find of all is a poor review. I still don’t understand how they rate so well, but ask for a Japanese single malt at a sushi restaurant (in the US) and they have no idea what you’re talking about.
I was lucky enough to travel to Tokyo recently and while finding domestic bottles wasn’t that hard, I was floored by how expensive single malts were. The last two pictures in this gallery were taken at a Tokyo spirits shop (at the time the dollar/yen was about 1:77) and laying down $80+ for a (domestic) 12yr seemed expensive (not to mention 700ml vs 750ml). Perhaps it’s a supply issue, but remember, in the 1980s Hakushu was the largest distillery in the world and Yamazazki 12/18yr sells for approx $40/$120 in the US (half of what the Tokyoites are paying).
As you can see from the picture, I was still sticker shocked when I made my first purchase – the bottom shelf, 500ml bottle, Nikka Whisky From the Barrel.
NOTE: I did find significantly lower prices at the duty-free shop at Narita, normally duty-free isn’t that great of a deal from what I’ve experience, but in this case, they were a good 30% cheaper. So if you happen to be visiting, you may want to just wait to stock up, the selection was very good.