So determined to win rare full-sized Hibiki and Yamazaki whiskies we’re willing to spend over US$300 for them.

Just last month, Japan’s popular discount store chain Don Quijote, known commonly as “Donki” in Japan, opened up two never-before seen specialty stores inside Tokyo Station, with one dedicated to sweets called “Okashi Donki” (“Sweets Donki”) and the other dedicated to alcohol, called “Osake Donki“, with “osake” translating to “alcohol” in English.

▼ Osake Donki

When our roving reporter Mr Sato visited the specialty alcohol store shortly after it opened, one thing that left a lasting impression on him was the unusual gacha machines, which cost 3,850 yen (US$31.88) a pop and promised to deliver a mystery whisky product to the user that’s said to be worth more than the price you pay for a go at the machine.

▼ “Whisky Gacha”

This sign shows all the whiskies you have the chance of winning in return for your 3,500-yen investment, and there are only 100 bottles available in every round. At the very bottom, we have the Monkey Shoulder, priced at 3,938 yen, and right at the top we have a Macallan Single Malt (8,778 yen), a Single Malt Yamazaki (10,780 yen), and…drum roll please…a Suntory Hibiki 21 Year Old (priced at a whopping 76,780 yen [US$699.43]), which was named the best blended whisky in the world at the World Whisky Awards 2017.

▼ Prices in red are before tax, prices in black include tax.

When Mr Sato first visited, he wasn’t able to try the machines as they were sadly awaiting stock. However, the memory of the unique Whisky Gacha lived on in his head for days, until he finally decided to return to the store and turn the wheel of fortune.

▼ After paying at the counter, staff gave him this special coin to use at either of the two machines.

Mr Sato span the wheel-like knob and out popped a capsule with a piece of paper inside it. As it’s pretty much impossible to fill a gacha machine with full-sized bottles of whisky, the paper inside has a number written on it that corresponds to a particular whisky, and Mr Sato was able to open the capsule and take a look at the number inside.

While Mr Sato couldn’t tell what whisky he’d won by looking at the number, when he took the slip of paper up to the counter, staff handed over his corresponding prize. He was given this bag of whisky, which put a big grin on Mr Sato’s face, and he decided to take it in to the office with him a few weeks later, when he wasn’t working from home, to share the joy with his colleagues.

The biggest whisky lover at work is undoubtedly our boss Yoshio, so that’s who Mr Sato made a beeline for when he eventually went back to the office. Prize in hand, he took the whisky out of the box to proudly show the whisky connoisseur.

▼ The whiskey Mr Sato had procured was a Speyburn 10 year (4,158 yen), which was second to last in price on the list, and accounted for 24 bottles out of the 100 available.

While Mr Sato thought Yoshio would be happy for him, this is how their conversation went:

Mr Sato: “I got this from Donki’s Whisky Gacha.”

Yoshio: “What prize rank was it?”

Mr Sato: “It was second from the bottom, but I didn’t lose money on it.”

Yoshio: “What?”

There was a moment’s silence as Mr Sato tried to work out what was going through Yoshio’s mind. He didn’t have to wait long to find out what Yoshio was thinking, though, as his boss immediately sprang up and grabbed him by the shirtfront, yelling:

▼ “Second from the bottom is not satisfactory!” 

▼ “Is whisky a joke to you???!!!” 

“So…so…sor…sorr…sorry, boss!”

As Mr Sato spluttered out his apology, Yoshio sprinted to the door, yelling behind for our reporter to follow, telling him he would show him how to win.

Mr Sato dutifully obliged, grabbing his camera and dashing out to follow Yoshio on his trip across town to Tokyo Station. When they arrived, Mr Sato trembled in fear as he saw that Yoshio had literally brought his game face with him, along with four 10,000 yen bills in the hopes of winning that top prize.

▼ Game face…on!

Looking at the sign, Mr Sato nervously realised that the top three prizes had changed since his last visit, with the super-expensive Hibiki 21 now replaced by an expensive Yamazaki 12 Year. Yoshio was unfazed, however, as the Yamazaki 12 Year is still a top drop, and definitely a prize worth winning.

▼ The top contents of the 100-bottle lots appear to change slightly once they all sell out.

After handing in his 40,000 yen at the counter, Yoshio was given some change and 10 coins to play with. And that’s when Mr Sato saw his boss’s inner Gollum appear – back hunched, eyes bright, and stroking his silver coins, Yoshio murmured to Mr Sato that with these precious coins, he would definitely win.

For a second, Mr Sato considered running away but feared the wrath that might follow, so he decided to stay and snap away as Gollum played with the shiny coins. The tactic was to concentrate on one machine in the hopes of increasing his chances of a big prize, so he funnelled all his coins into the gacha machine on the right.

▼ By the end of it, Yoshio had calmed down a little and returned to his usual self, clutching his precious bounty – ten colourful capsules!

After swapping his capsules for whiskies, the two then realised they had to carry five bottles each back to the office. Yoshio was still in high spirits, though, and he decided to avoid looking in all the bags to keep the excitement going until they returned to work.

Once they returned, they lined up all the bags in random order and Mr Sato continued to snap away as Yoshio posed with his new darlings.

Starting from his right-hand side, Yoshio reached into the first bag and pulled out…

▼ A bottle of Glenfiddich 12!

The Glenfiddich 12 Year Old was valued at 4,158 yen, and there were only six of these available. That was a pretty good result!

▼ Next up was…an Old Pulteney 12 Year Old, valued at 5,258 yen! 

▼ There were only six of these to win as well, so Yoshio was well pleased.

▼ Moving on to the next bag, Yoshio pulled out…a Speyburn 10 Year Old, valued at 4,158 yen.

This particular bottle of whisky was the one that enraged Yoshio when Mr Sato had won it, so our reporter was surprised to see Yoshio’s grin at receiving it.

▼ “At least it’s not the bottom-ranking prize!”

“Hey, that’s exactly what I told you earlier”, thought Mr Sato, but he let it slide because they were now up to their fourth unbagging, which revealed…

▼ Another bottle of Old Pulteney!

▼ Oooooh my precious!

▼ Bag number six revealed a new type of whisky they hadn’t encountered yet: the Monkey Shoulder.

▼ Made for mixing, and with bright orange packaging…this might be alright!

▼ The next bag also contained a bottle of Monkey Shoulder, which turned the corners of Yoshio’s smile slightly south.

▼ When he pulled another bottle of the same whisky out of the next bag, Yoshio’s brow furrowed and he definitely wasn’t smiling anymore.

▼ By the next bag, he’d lost it — another bottle of Monkey Shoulder????!!!!

▼ One or two he might’ve forgiven, but now he had four of the lowest-ranking whisky in his possession.

▼ Oh, dear – make that five.

▼ How many Monkey Shoulders can one man handle?

▼ As he pulled the final whisky from the final bag, guess what was inside waiting for him…

▼ Another bottle of Monkey Shoulder!!!!!!!

Yoshio took a moment to carefully line up his haul on the table, which gave him some time to diffuse his disappointment at receiving a whopping six bottles of the lowest-ranking prize. Snuggling up to his ten whiskies — which worked out to be valued at 42,460 yen, more than the 38,500 yen he’d exchanged for them — Yoshio’s smile had finally returned.

If you’re looking to try your luck at Donki’s Whisky Gacha, staff say there’s a better chance of success when the number of remaining bottles, and therefore capsules in the machine, is low. That’s advice our own reporters will be taking on board for next time, but by the end of their exciting adventure, they both felt like they were winners after all.

Yoshio now had ten bottles of whisky to enjoy, and they were worth more than what he’d paid for them. As for Mr Sato? Well, he received the satisfaction of watching his boss realise that it’s not as easy as it seems to win the top prize, regardless of how much you spend or how much you love whisky.

And that only makes his humble bottle of Speyburn taste that much sweeter.

Editor’s note: We don’t condone bullying in the workplace and no Mr Satos were harmed in the making of this story.

Store information
Okashi Donki/Sake Donki / お菓子ドンキ・お酒ドンキ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Yaesu 2-1, Underground Shopping Mall North 1
Hours: 9:00 a.m.-11: 00 p.m.

Photos © SoraNews24 
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