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When a bottle of Karuizawa 52-year-old Zodiac Rat sold for a whopping £363,000 (about ¥47 million) at auction in London to an Asian private collector on March 18 — a record for a Japanese whisky — the eye-watering price capped a long-building trend: Japan’s take on the liquor is serious business.

Although yet to match its Scottish counterparts — a bottle of Macallan sold for $1.9 million (about ¥204 million) late last year — the upward trend has been clear for some time and, bolstered by the drink’s scarcity, looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.

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