Rare Japanese Whisky Costs Nearly $20,000, If You're Allowed To Buy It

Have $19,500 in your couch cushions that you'd like to put toward a nice bottle of Scotch? If not, don't worry—you can snag a more modest bottle for $16,250. More run-of-the-mill, but probably still palatable.

This afternoon (midnight, Greenwich Mean Time), online spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange will draw a ballot to determine who can buy two ultra-rare whisky releases from long defunct Japanese distillery Karuizawa. That whisky purveyor shuttered in 2000, but as Forbes explains, its stills contain a bit more product, which is now being sold at staggering prices via online lottery. There are 146 flagons of the Karuizawa 31-year-old sherry cask matured malt available for purchase, and 105 flagons of the more expensive 36-year variety.

The bottles are being marketed as The Sapphire Geishas, and a description of their contents reads like it could use a backing track of a triumphant, crescendoing orchestra:

The Sapphire Geishas were distilled in the 1980s, matured in ex-sherry casks and moved into glass demijohns when we felt they had reached the peak of perfection. Now, marking 65 years since the distillery was originally established, they stand to take their place in our Karuizawa Geishas collection.

And it only gets better from there, folks. The tasting notes for the 31-year variety contain the haunting phrase "Thick chocolate sauce and leather, with seaweedy umami, rich riverbank loam and singed raisins," while the 36-year boasts that "Hints of tar emerge, wrapped around pine twigs and run through with spice and brown-sugar sweetness." These descriptions netted Whisky Exchange employee Billy Abbott a byline, and rightfully so.

All are welcome to submit an online ballot for a chance to win the chance to spend five figures on the Sapphire Geishas. You can only enter once, and while you can apply to win both bottles, only one will be awarded in the event that your name is drawn. But why am I getting so bogged down in technicalities? I can probably just cut to the chase and report that none of us won.