Daikaya has been known for its progressive bar ever since the spot opened with spherified sake bombs. Now there’s an unusual option for high-end spirits fans: a Japanese whiskey “bottle keep.” Former Bourbon Steak bartender Jamie MacBain, who took over Daikaya’s beverage program in October, introduces whiskey lockers where patrons can store bottles they purchase for up to six months.
The bottle-keep concept is popular in Asia, and isn’t entirely foreign to Washington. A small number of other restaurants, including Nopa and Izakaya Seki, allow guests to purchase spirits by the bottle and store them for later use. A big draw is the impress-your-guests factor, which is pretty high at Daikaya. Patrons can pick from 12 rotating Japanese whiskeys, which currently range in price from $160 Nikka Taketsuru 12-year to the prized Suntory Yamazaki 18-year, which clocks in at $600; the Suntory distillery is the oldest in Japan, and produced what was considered the best whiskey in the world last year. The bottles will be displayed on shelves behind the bar with the owner’s name written in both English and Japanese, and served in specialty glassware.
There’s also a cost incentive. Purchasing a 750-milliliter bottle (roughly 12 two-ounce pours) is cheaper than pouring a dozen glasses of the rare stuff. Then again, if you’re spending $320 on a bottle of Nikka Yoichi 15-year with essences of peat and macadamias, you’re probably not worried about splurging.
Anyone looking to semi-save can enter a raffle during the month of February, where purchasing a $35 pour (about 1.3 ounces) of Nikka Taketsuru 21-year earns a raffle ticket in the form of a key. The winner, announced on February 28, earns a free bottle of the $410 whiskey and a home at the bar.