Technology cannot distil whisky’s old romance
Silicon Valley makes spirits faster than in oak barrels but history is hard to replicate
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.