Oldest Japanese Whisky Released: Saburomaru 1960

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

Today, the oldest Japanese whisky to date is officially released: ‘Saburomaru 1960’, a 55yo single malt whisky.
You may be excused for scratching your head and saying “Saburo-what?” Saburomaru is the name of the whisky distillery owned by Wakatsuru Shuzo in Toyama prefecture. They’ve been making whisky since 1952, but only for a few months a year. All the malt they distill is heavily peated. You’ll be able to read much more about this overlooked distillery in my forthcoming book (I apologize but I have to keep some of my powder dry). Wakatsuru Shuzo used to market its whiskies under the ‘Sunshine’ brand. The ‘Saburomaru’ line will be reserved for single malts expressions from now on.

As said, ‘Saburomaru 1960’ is the oldest single malt Japanese whisky ever bottled. It was distilled in May 1960 in an old ‘allospas’ still, imported from France. This is a continuous still, so in Scotland, this would not be a single malt technically, since single malts have to be distilled in pot stills. (In Japan, this doesn’t matter.) It is a vatting of a few casks. All the casks used were ex-red wine casks from Yamanashi from the days when Wakatsuru Shuzo dabbled in ‘port wine’. It’s bottled at vatting strength (47%) and limited to 155 bottles.

The retail price will be 550,000 yen plus tax - which, from a purely objective point of view, is quite reasonable. But don’t get too excited: the company is organizing this as a lottery. For more information (in Japanese!), head on over here.

On a recent visit to the distillery, I had the chance to try this historic whisky... - but that’s for another post!


Bret said…
Quite the air gap at the top of the bottle, and IMO they don't have the history/background/popularity to justify that high of a price. Think I'll pass on this one, will leave it for the speculators :)
Joshua said…
Seems a WAY better value as compared to what's being charged for the Yamazaki Sherry Cask these days...
hawthorn1990 said…
Got a ticket 🤓
Hopefully I've filled out the purchase order correctly!
It's a tough site to navigate with limited 🇯🇵 Ability!
Now to decide the best way to enjoy this with friends one day!
Jaiden Edward said…
Is there still a chance to be enrolled? Being a whisky enthusiast, I'd like to try my luck too. I played the conventional lottery ( France Lotto) and had never participated in something similar! By the way, wish luck to the participants!

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