Dr. Firat Durmaz

Founder & CEO

After I graduated from Chemistry department at Bosphorous University in Istanbul, I moved to Zurich to continue with my education. I completed my phD at ETH Zurich in Materials Science department and started to work as a scientist in a company. After working two years in a chemistry laboratory I figured out that I don`t want to spend the rest of my life in the laboratory. I joined an executive MBA program at ETH Zurich. During that that time I switched from drinking blend whiskies to single malt whiskies and searched what is special about single malt whisky.

In MMA a Japanese whisky drew my attention. It was winning every year gold medals 2008, 2009 … So I started to buy this Japanese whisky Karuizawa. I liked it very much, the bottles had beautiful labels (NOHs) and they were very limited, some of them were only limited worldwide to 100 bottles. Then I observed how the prices soar every year. I remember the time when legendary 1967 Karuizawa (LMDW and TWE) sold for 220EUR. Now it costs 20.000EUR if you can find it. So I started to look at Karuizawa as an investment opportunity.

The story of Karuizawa distillery is interesting, it goes back to 1955. Besides it is a lost distillery, it was a overlooked spirit business from Kirin Beer Group. The production was shut down 2000. In 2011 the Number Drinks managed to purchase all remaining Karuizawa casks. Afterwards I think it was 2012, these casks were bought by The Whisky Exchange (TWE), La Maison du Whisky (LMDW) and a private person from Taiwan.

At that time Karuizawa was bottled by different liqueur stores in different countries. The stores bought a cask or two and bottled it only for their local market for example cask 869 and 8775 for a liqueur shop in California or in Norway, Sweden … The problem was these shops don’t ship whisky to other countries, in USA not even from California to other states. They have strict rules. So I started to travel, USA, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Taiwan. I was investing heavily in Karuizawa bottles.