I've just started a two year contract in Japan and I'm finding it hard to locate anything other than a very limited supply of blended whiskys at my local sakura-ya (wrong spelling, I know!). Can anyone help with the following questions?
1. Are there any specialist stores in Tokyo where I could find a more varied selection. I'm currently staying in Shinjuku, so the nearer to there the better.
2. What sort of prices should I expect to pay? I'm guessing probably cheaper than back home?!
3. Is there any specialist websites who wiill ship whisky to Japan?
4. If i get it mailed over from the UK will I need to pay any import duty or taxes?
If there's anybody out there who can shed some light on this I would be very grateful.
P. Grahame Hook.
You're right about the price of whisky over here - look out for the seijo ishii chain of supermarkets and they'll sort you out with what you're looking for. A thousand yen for a bottle of Jonnie red, two thousand for a ten year old Ardberg, four grand for a Glenfiddich Solera. They're always changing their stock and they've got lots of discount promotions.
If you jump on the Shonan-Shinjuku JR line for thirty minutes to Yokohama, there's a big Seijo Ishii in the basement of the Lumine Station building. I bought a bottle of Bowmore Darkest there yesterday for under 5000yen,
Let me know if you find any other good places to buy,
If you need to get Whisky Magazine in Japan, a number of liquor stores such as "Shinanoya" stock it, plus some bars such as Helmsdale, Malt House Islay & Speyside Way.
Alternatively, contact them directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Incidentally, I hear there are a couple of interesting tasting events coming up in April in Tokyo: one of a series of old Ardbegs and one of the Celtic Heartlands series...I don't have any more details as yet.
My personal favourite for whisky shopping is a small shop in Shibuya called Kawauchiya. The sign is written kanji, but the shop is very easy to find. The block is Utagawacho 30. To get there from Shibuya station, go straight out of the Hachiko exit and take the road up towards HMV and Tokyu Hands. At a fork in the road you will see a koban (police box). Turn left at the koban and you'll find the shop immediately on the left hand side.
It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it has an absolutely tremendous selection of scotch and bourbon, including a wide selection of special bottlings. Better yet, the prices are competitive with the best prices you'll find in Japan, which as long-term residents here know are very reasonable. The shop's Irish and Canadian whisky selection has been steadily improving lately, to boot, including several offerings from Middleton. I picked up a bottle of Green Spot last week for about 4000 yen ($37). Other representative prices are:
Highland Park 12 at 4180
Highland Park 18 at 5200
Talisker 10 at 3700
Yoichi 10 at 4000
Elijah Craig 12 at 2000
Upstairs they have some very nice Tequila, as well.
If you'd like photo of the shop sign for reference, let me know. I can send it to you from my cell phone. Otherwise, feel free to tag along on my next trip there. I live close to Shinjuku and visit the shop often.
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