Suntory only made 5,000 bottles of the highly hyped Yamazaki Mizunara 18 Year Japanese whisky for the whole world, and prices for a bottle reach into the $4,000 range. If you want a taste, you have to be rich, know someone who is rich, or you have to have been to Disney World recently. Yeah, Disney World.
Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida, carries some of the rarest Japanese whiskies in America. Twenty-three different whiskies (the last bit of Mizunara 18 Year was recently sold, sadly) fill Morimoto’s backbar for anyone wanting a taste from a number of bottles that cost thousands of dollars.
“Most rare and limited edition spirits never really see the public light, they are stashed away for VIPs, friends and people in the know,” Eric Bandauski, the purchasing manager for Patina Restaurant Group, which owns Morimoto Asia, Enzo’s Hideaway and others, said in an email. “We want to feature and promote and let the guests know it’s there, ready to be had if you desire,” he said, adding that “jaws hit the floor from industry friends when they found out we were allocated a bottle of Suntory’s infamous Mizunara 18 Year and we put it on the back bar and menu for everyone to enjoy.”
That is a reasonable reaction. When’s the last time you strolled through an amusement park designed for children and stumbled upon a true whiskey gem? To that point, when’s the last time you walked into the nicest bar you know and saw an extremely rare bottle on the shelf for anyone to try?
“I heard so many comments that we are nuts, stash it away, hide it, you’ll never see that again,” Bandauski said. “And I get that, but to me there is no joy in that. We are in the hospitality industry, we are there to make people happy, and boy, you should see guests faces who ask for it, and then when the server actually lets them know it’s for sale, it’s almost like children on Christmas morning for the rare whisky fans.”