Thursday 7 May 2015

Bar Review #15: The Society (Tokyo, Japan)

The last Tokyo bar visited as part of our JapanTour14 (before we moved onto whisky bars in Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Niseko and Sapporo - all to be reviewed soon) was The Society, part of the Park Hotel, not far from Tokyo's Ginza district. 

Conveniently located a short walk from the excellent Campbelltoun Loch, The Society is, as the name suggests, an official Scotch Malt Whisky Society bar (the first in Japan). As you might expect, there's a large (100+) selection of the famous green SMWS bottles, and if you don't feel like an SMWS expression...too bad! That's the only whisky on offer.

(When would you ever not feel like an SMWS dram, though?)

The dimly-lit and elegant venue has an illuminated marble U-shaped bar as its centrepiece, commanding views over Tokyo, and a wine rack absolutely full of SMWS bottles. It does feel ever so slightly like a "hotel bar" (albeit a very nice one), but you quickly forget that once you gaze at the menu, and realise what's on offer.

The standard menu contains a smattering of interesting SMWS drams, but it's the secret or member's menu you really want (to see that, show your SMWS membership card, or strike up a conversation with the bartender and hope for the best). Here you'll see Karuizawas and a number of other Japanese SMWS expressions - none of which feature on the regular menu.

Drams are served in official Society glasses (naturally) and while the bar didn't offer half-drams like most Japanese whisky bars, the prices were still very reasonable considering the rarity and quality of the drams on offer (for example - 6 Karuizawas, 132.1 to 132.6, ranging from ¥2100 to ¥5500, or $22AUD/$125HKD to $57AUD/$350HKD). Some drams were available for as little as ¥1400 ($14AUD/$90HKD) at members' prices, which was up to 40% cheaper than the non-member pricing.

The website states no cover charge, but I'm sure we paid a ¥1000 cover charge each (which is pretty standard for a number of smaller Japanese bars), so perhaps they've changed the policy. I'm back there in just over a week, so will confirm then.

There's not really much else to say about the bar - if you like whisky, would like to try some of the rarest, single cask, cask strength Scottish and Japanese malts around, in pleasant surroundings with great views over Tokyo, it's hard to look past this place.

The Society is located on the 25th floor of the Park Hotel Tokyo:
Shiodome Media Tower 1-7-1 Higashi Shimbashi, Minato-ku 1057227 Tokyo
Closest stations: Shiodome Station, Shimbashi Station
Tue-Sat : 22:00-25:30                                               
Sun-Mon: 22:00-23:00 



  1. Damn, steep prices, I guess quality drams are fairly priced. Nice ambience though, adding to my list for Tokyo.

    1. Put into perspective though - pretty reasonable compared to a lot of other bars selling SMWS drams. Consider also that the 132.2 (which I think we paid around $36AUD/dram) sells for over $4,000AUD for a bottle at some places now(!)