PLCB Alert: Scapa 16 (and Yamzaki 12…)

It its efforts to purge inventory that cannot be replaced due to the distiller phasing out the expression, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has finally sold off all of its remaining Laphroaig 18. I had mentioned the deep discounts offered on the 18 in a previous post and, given the recent announcements regarding other distilleries moving solely to NAS (No Age Statement) expressions, I decided to check other similarly affected bottles.

Two casualties of the NAS movement announced last year are Longmorn 16 and Scapa 16.

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Both will be sorely missed, the Scapa 16 being replaced by Scapa Skiren and the Longmorn 16 may or may not be replaced by Longmorn Distiller’s Choice. Regardless, Scapa 16 is disappearing and, like Laphroaig 18, PLCB is slashing its price to clear it out. And I mean it’s really slashing the price, from $US 79.99 to $US 51.99! This Scapa expression is a uniquely floral dram in no way similar to the neighbouring Highland Park distillery and deserves a place in the collection, particularly at this price. Move fast on this one, as of May 31, 2016 there were only 34 bottles left scattered across the state of PA, with none in the major urban stores.

Also, as an update on our old friend Yamazaki 12, despite a global shortage of this vanishing dram, a remarkable amount still sits on the shelves of PA, waiting patiently to delight foragers. Still priced at (a very reasonable) $US84.99, it’s really not clear why the PLCB has not discounted this item in the same way it has for other discontinued whiskies. Regardless, PLCB must have been sitting on quite a hoard of it when Suntory nixed its age statement: an astounding 1000 bottles remain on the shelves! One PLCB outlet in Allentown shows 63 bottles in stock! Go. Get. This.

 

Happy foraging!

 

 

 

 

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The Last Yamazaki 12

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Very soon, the last bottles will be purchased from a retail store. Yamazaki 12, an exceptional Japanese malt that is no longer being produced by Suntory, will only we available at auction. But I have a secret…I know a place where you can walk into a store and find some sitting idly, quietly, on a shelf waiting for a collector, or better yet someone eager to open a bottle to taste a dram, or someone who is both and will buy two bottles! Someone who will come by and take them to a good home. Yes, this place exists and if you live near there or are luck enough to live close to there can take advantage of one of the last stashes available in the world. I was even passing through Narita airport earlier this year and for some time now you can’t even get them there. So, where you might ask, is this place?

This of course comes down to the argument I have been making for some time now about local supply and demand. Locally, there is not a deep appreciation of Yamazaki and as a result it has languished on shelves now for years. I have slowly taken advantage of this but the stocks are now low and the price rising quickly. That said, would you pay $USD 84.95 for a bottle of Yamazaki 12? I was lucky to have been buying at $74.95 but just this last week the PLCB has bumped the price to $84.95 as global stocks quickly vanish.

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True. Only $USD 84.95!

Yes, the same Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board I have written about previously. For some reason, Yamazaki does not appear in their whiskey, whisky or scotch lists so it’s kind of hidden on their app. Only by searching specifically for Yamazaki does the inventory make itself known. I’m not going to list every bottle available in the state of Pennsylvania, but the city of Erie shows 15 bottles available, a veritable treasure trove! There’s a few scattered bottles around Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg as well. But, similar to our LCBO, the PLCB does offer an inter-store transfer service, so if you are in PA, or can drive to a PLCB, call and reserve a bottle, or however many you feel you need.

This is it guys. If there are other states, provinces or countries out there that do NOT show ‘Currently Out Of Stock, Next Availability Unknown’ under their image of Yamazaki of any age statement, please share. I’m doing my public good for collectors by sharing this source, but if there’s others out there, by all means grab what you need then share with us. Yoichi is gone, Taketsuru is gone, Hakushu is gone. No more age statements on these malts will be found outside of pubs and bars. But for the collector who craves this wonderful malt from Suntory, this is it.

Happy foraging!

Nikka Yoichi, with an age statement!

From Japan to Poland. Yeah, not a connection often made for most people, let alone whisky drinkers, but it’s an opportunity that I want to share. In future posts I’ll share some secrets about where to find Nikka and Suntory bottles with numbers on them in the US, but today I’m in Poland so that’s where we’ll start. The city of Poznan is one of the larger cities in Poland, a wonderful, slightly gothic city close to the border with Germany. Full disclosure: I lived here for two years while working so I know the city reasonably well but that said, I had never in that time been to either of the stores mentioned below.

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There’s been plenty written already about the Japanese TV show Massan so I won’t go into details suffice to say that it has, inadvertently and single-handedly, reshaped the global market for Japanese whisky.

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Nikka and Suntory announced they are moving to NAS bottling exclusively. The horror! The horror! I’ve tried Yamazaki and Hakushu with and without numbers and, well, numbers are better. Your mileage may vary of course, but I truly think that something has been lost with the introduction of the vague and ubiquitous ‘Distiller’s Reserve’ releases. Don’t get me wrong here, they are still good whiskies, just not as full of character and uniqueness as the age statement bottles. Which brings me to today’s post: Nikka.

I had never tried any whisky from Nikka until this week. There is a cigar bar here in Poznan that has, in my opinion, the best whisky selection in the city and they have both Yoichi 10 and 15 available. I tasted both and loved both (deliciously paired with an H. Upman Majestic). I had done a little research about the liquor stores here and was planning on buying a Springbank 15 but after trying the Yoichis I thought I would, just to be sure, check the local supply of Japanese whisky because you never know where a gem of a deal might be hiding.

Joy.

While the Whisky Shop linked above only had the Yoichi NAS (but did have Hakushu 12 as well as numbered Taketsuru and Hibiki) there was another major whisky shop in town that did have Yoichi with an age statement. The website is in Polish but the numbers don’t lie for Yoichi 10, 12 and 15. Sure, 850zl/~$300 CAD for the Yamazaki 12 year is completely out of hand, but for the Yoichi? Look at the prices. I felt the forager’s rush, like discovering something that no one else appreciated for the value that was right there. Right in front of me.

Hiding in plain sight.

Of course Canadian duty free protocols and the patriotic imperative to import no more than 1.14 litres of liquor into the country prevented me from buying any more than a single bottle so I chose the Yoichi 10. It, to me, after trying both the 10 and the 15, seemed like an exceptional price/quality ratio. So the lesson of the day here is: shop for whisky where the demand is uncertain. The prices here in Poznan clearly reflect the global situation for Suntory products, but, oddly, not for Nikka products.

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Happy foraging!

Edit: Wow. A mere 48 hours after I bought that bottle for 359 zloty, the store has bumped their price to 449 zloty, about $30 CAD more than I paid on Saturday. It’s still not an awful price for Yoichi but, damn, finding deals and sharing them with other collectors is going to be tougher than I thought!