Drinks

Where to Buy Japanese Whisky in Orange County

*Main feature image courtesy of Beam Suntory, Inc.

Trying to find a liquor store that specifically carries Japanese whisky can be a P.I.T.A. which is why this directory was created (I feel your pain)

It does not seem like it was that long ago that Japanese whiskies were somewhat moderately priced, but those days are long gone which means that Yamazaki 12 I gave as a gift, I wish I had kept it for myself (yea, I said that).

nikka-whisky-featured-image
I got to admit, I’m team Nikka (yea, I know there’s no teams, but if I had to choose a team). Image courtesy of Nikka

I primarily focused on Suntory and Nikka products because they offer some of the best and widest range of whiskies although some of the places listed will carry more than just these two brands.

My Short List:

Why such a short list? It can be frustratingly annoying to consistently find the product at a somewhat decent price, so the spots listed below are the most consistent.

Inventory and pricing at your store will vary and are subject to change at any time.

1. BevMo

Alcohol is what they’re mainly about

Locations (storelocator): Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Cypress, Lake Forest, Orange, Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Anaheim Hills, Ladera Ranch
Brands:
Suntory, Nikka, Iwai, Ohishi, Chichibu, Fukano, to Kikori
Pricing/availability: one of the most competitively priced places to buy alcohol/spirits; whisky, beer, etc, so I had to have them on the list because BevMo and Hi-Times are my go-to places. Especially for Glenfiddich because I can’t afford to drink Nikka casually all day, everyday when Glenfiddich is as low as $28.99-32.99.
Website: bevmo.com

Hours may vary from store-to-store

Wed-ThursFri-SatSunTues
9am-10pm8am-11pm8am-10pm9am-9pm

2. CostCo

Attention CostCo shoppers they carry Japanese whisky

Locations: Fullerton, Garden Grove, Alton Marketplace, Tustin, The District, Bella Terra, San Juan Capistrano, Fountain Valley, Westminster, Laguna Niguel, Yorba Linda, La Habra.
Brands:
Suntory, Nikka
Pricing/availability: I don’t even have a CostCo membership, but everybody I know who drinks knows that this is the spot for Japanese whisky. Not only do they carry a decent range, but like always, the pricing is as good as it gets.
Website: costco.com

Mon-Sun
10am-8:30pm

3. Hi-Times Wine Cellars

One of the largest liquor stores with hard to find hi-end whiskies

Locations: 250 Ogle St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Brands:
Suntory, Nikka, Iwai, and number of others.
Pricing/availability: not only do they have a good selection of the usual suspects of Japanese whisky, but they also have some super pricey and exclusive ones too that you don’t just come across on a usual basis. If that isn’t a big enough draw, they also have other whiskies, bourbons, and Scotches, along with a very knowledgeable staff (Michael in wine) and this is where I met my leg hugging homie WhiskyAnorach.
Telephone: (949) 650-8463
Website: hitimewine.net

Thurs-SatSunMon-Wed
9am-9pm10am-7pm9am-8pm

4. The Mixing Glass

Bartenders who know their trade turned business owners

Location: 3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Brands: Iwai, Nikka, Ohishi, to name a few.
Pricing/availability: if you want to go someplace where they actually know something beyond what aisle the Scotch and whisky is located on, you have to come here. They carry the usual suspects, but they also carry the obscure, like the stuff only people in what I like to call the “biz” know of (nobody here calls it the “biz” cuz they’re actually cool).
Telephone: (714) 975-9952
Website: the-mixing-glass.com

Tues-FriSatSun-Mon
11am-7pm10am-8pm11am-6pm

5. Tokyo Central

A Japanese market with Japanese whisky, sake, shochu, and beer

Locations: 2975 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Brands:
Suntory, Nikka, White Oak, and a number of others.
Pricing/availability: who would have thought a Japanese market would have it? Everybody that’s who, it’s Japanese whisky and a Japanese market, but what I was not expecting was such uncompetitive or average pricing. I mean, I thought they’d be like “hey, you’re a Japanese company, and we’re a Japanese company, so we’re going to hook it up.” Well, that wasn’t happening.
Telephone: (714) 751-8433
Website: tokyocentral.com

Mon-Sun
9am-10pm

Whisky Company Information

It is not easy finding a consistent place to buy Japanese whisky at a competitive price too which is why I created the above list because the manufacturers, importers, and distributors below do not make it easy finding a retailer.

Chichibu (Tokiwa Imports)

Chichibu distillery was founded in 2008 by the grandson of the founder of the Hanyu distillery. They are a small distillery who has produced a number of products that people seek out.

  • Product lineup: Ichiro’s
  • Dealer locator: N/A

Fukano (Impexbev.com)

Founded in 1823, a fifth generation family member is running the distillery that produces a combination of malted and un-malted rice to craft their whisky in a pot still.

  • Product lineup: Regular Whisky Silver, Sherry cask, 6000, Vault Reserve #1
  • Distributor locator: yes
  • Dealer locator: N/A

Mars Shinshu (Tokiwa Imports)

The Honbu family has been distilling for more than a century, and their whisky distillery is Japan’s highest distillery at 798 meters.

  • Product lineup: Iwai Whisky and Tradition
  • Distributor locator: Young’s Market is where the service industry goes to for their needs.
  • Dealer locator: N/A

Nikka (Nikka.com)

The founder, Masataka Taketsuru studied the distilling process of Scotch whisky in Scotland, and he started Nikka in 1934 in Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan.

  • Product lineup: Taketsuru, Whisky from the Barrel, Coffey Grain/Malt Whisky, Single Malt Yoichi/Miyagikyo, the Nikka
  • Dealer locator: N/A

Ohishi (Impexbev.com)

Ohishi Whisky is distilled entirely from rice and aged in either brandy or sherry casks (big raisins, figs, and oak spice cover the nose and palate).

  • Product lineup: Sherry cask and brandy cask
  • Distributor locator: yes
  • Dealer locator: N/A

Suntory (Whisky.Suntory.com)

“For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.” The Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson movie “Lost in Translation” put Suntory and Japanese whisky on the map for many Americans.

  • Product lineup: Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki, and Toki
  • Dealer locator: lists stores, but there’s no way of knowing what their product line-up is like.

White Oak (Tokiwa Imports)

White Oak is small distillery located in the city of Akashi in the Hyogo prefecture. The company started as a sake producer in 1888, but started to produce whisky in 1919.

  • Product lineup: Akashi single malt/whisky
  • Dealer locator: N/A

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