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The Fukui Newspaper Online site reports on a brewery with an unusual wholesale pricing strategy – bidding.

The article claims the Kokuryū (black dragon) brewery is the first ever to set wholesale prices this way, as it prepares to put its cold-store matured high-quality junmai daiginjō genshu Muni (無二, unique, second to none) on the market in the autumn.

Kokuryū’s sake is only sold through exclusive partnership with shops. There will be a tasting by experts with an assessment of sake from different years to enable a suitable price to be chosen. They hope that setting an appropriate price range for vintage sake will raise prices in the market as a whole.

The brewery says there are some sake on the market where a 720 ml bottle sells for over JPY 100,000, but as a whole consumers don’t have any idea of why the price should be so high. They also want to respond to these doubts so as to increase the price of sake overseas.

That’s how they came up with the idea of having their partner shops, who are closer to their end customers, evaluate the sake and bid for it at what they think is a suitable price. Representatives from about 60 partner shops will attend the auction on 14 June in a restaurant in Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo. A total of 1,500 720 ml bottles of Muni produced between 2012 and 2015 will be up for sale, evaluated by a panel of four sommeliers and chefs.

The shop representatives will then have a chance to taste the sake themselves before bidding. If the number of bids exceeds the number of bottles available for one year’s vintage, the prices goes up and a second round of bidding is held, and so on until the number of bottles requested is equal to or less than the number available.