Yoichi (no age) - Cheapest single malt in the world?

Is this the cheapest single malt whisky in the world?

A bottle costs 1600 yen. It works out at £6.80 or $13.40. That is for a 500 ml bottle, rather than the more usual 700/750 ml, but we are still talking about £9.50/700 ml, a price that not even discount supermarket Lidl's astoundingly cheap own-brand single malt beats in the UK.

This is no second-rate brand either. This is a "Yoichi", arguably one of the two top Japanese single malt distilleries. It was a 10-year-old Yoichi that confirmed Japan's arrival on the international single malt scene in 2001, when it won "Best of the Best" in the Whisky Magazine annual contest. So what are Nikka doing sullying the Yoichi name with one of the cheapest single malts in the world? Who cares? Ours it but to rejoice and get straight down to the nearest supermarket to buy three bottles of the stuff before they think again (if you are lucky enough to live in Japan).

Is it any good?

Like meeting a sailor, just off his boat and out on the town. He was shaven and sweet smelling after his first bath in months but rough and ready and still redolent of the docks. Is that all a bit homoerotic? The nose was warming, with bananas and apricots and a touch of vanilla. The first taste was powerful but sweet. There was a flavour of pine but then it moved into much more maritime territory. Then soap and then a hint of ammonia at the end of a long finish. It was all quite complex and unbalanced. Same as meeting a sailor at the docks, I suppose.

Did I like it? Yes. And, at this price, I could even justify making a toddy out of it. Which was damn fine, by the way.

Abv 43 per cent
Price (April 2007)
500 ml - 1,600 yen


Anonymous said…
There is a little game I play when reading newspapers. Almost all headlines posed as a question are best answered "Erm, probably not" ("Did Elvis have a love child with Marilyn Monroe?" Erm, probably not). That is why the journos put the headline as a question in the first place.

Anyway, the answer to this post's question is almost certainly "Erm, probably not". Interesting discussion about it at the Whisky Magazine forum.
Unknown said…
I just got one bottle of YOICHI (no age) sent to me from my fiancés parents. We live in Sweden but my fiancé is from Nishinnomiya, Japan. Looking forward to tast it. I have tasted the 10 year old before and I really like it, so my expetations is quite high. Do you know anything about the age? To be called a "single malt" in Scottland the whisky has to be at the lowest 3 years old. Is it the same in Japan?
Please excuse my bad english.
// Lars Karlsson, Sweden
Anonymous said…
I am not sure about the age. Obviously, Japanese whisky is not subject to European law, though they almost always stay strictly within the conventions of Scotch. In this case, however, I have no categorical information. I will try to find out the next time I speak to someone from Nikka.
Ash said…
Just picked up a bottle of this at the supermarket today. Definitely agreeing on the sweet fruitiness of it, for this kind of price I could quite happily make it a regular tipple!
Anonymous said…
you can be quite sure it's at least 3 years old because the reason why japanese managed to get authentic whisky is because they mastered the scottish method of producing whisky. and japanese culture is all about becoming perfect in the basics before you even get the green light to try out something yourself (that's how it works in japan in the ikebana or sadou courses - years of copying your teacher before using creativity yourself). therefore, taking it all to account, i'm sure it's produced according to the scottish rules/traditions
Nonjatta said…
Thanks for your comment. I never did post my update on the age statement question. I asked a senior manager at nikka about this and they said that it was of course over 3 yrs and that most of it was 5-6 years.
Anonymous said…
if been ripped off, I live in Belgium and I paid €32 for it £29,5
But it is indeed very good whiskey, too bad I had to pay a price for it
Basti said…
I couldn't say whether it's the cheapest single malt in the world, but with the no-age Miyagikyou it has to be the best value.
Anonymous said…
We are in Taiwan and the prices of young OB whisky here are really low. Yoichi NAS costs us exactly 1600yen and Miyagikyo NAS is even cheaper. This applies to scotch as well: we once paid less than US$17 for a Glenmorangie Original gift pack (two branded glasses thrown in for free)!
Ben said…
I would love to know where you found it at that price???1 I live in UK and everywhere I see it is around £39??
Chris Bunting said…
I think you need to look at the date on that post... Even in 2007, it was not of course available for that price globally. It was sold in Japan.

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