When a bottle of Yamazaki 55-year-old whisky sold for a record $795,000 at an auction in Hong Kong in August it was proof of two things. The whisky, matured in Japanese oak casks that can impart vanilla, honey and floral notes and a hint of burning incense, is a collector’s item. Also, they do not make it any more.

The spiralling prices of top Japanese whiskies shows one of the biggest problems facing any spirits maker: if it underestimates the future demand for a product it will only bottle and sell decades in the future, it cannot go back and increase the supply. Many wish they had more of their prized liquors to offer, but it is too late now.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now