葉巻な人々 Stuart Ablett
If you walk into a liquor shop in Tokyo the last thing you would expect is to be greeted by a foreign proprietor. But at Masutoh liquor shop, located deep in the heartland of Shinjuku-ku, there he is, Stuart Ablett. A towering man with a goatee and short-cut hair, he greets you with a friendly ‘irashaiimase’ (welcome to our shop). Stuart is a Canadian, married to the daughter of the family who owns the shop. After his father-in-law died a few years ago he took over the difficult task of running a liquor business in Japan. A fluent Japanese language speaker, Stuart takes orders from the local bars and restaurants over the phone and tends the shop in the friendly and efficient manners you’d expect in Japan. In short, Stuart runs a regular liquor shop.
On a second look, CigarJapan.com noticed that at Masutoh there are a few things that not every liquor shop in Tokyo offers, at least not in that quantity and quality: Wine and cigars! Stuart Ablett is a wine and cigar expert. Beside the usual beers, sake and liquor stuff that Masutoh International Liquors stock, they also have handmade sake, or ‘jizake’ from around Japan, plus in the wine cellar they stock about 5000 bottles, among them such famous producers as “Chateau Lafite Rothschild “, “Chateau Mouton Rothschild ” or “Romanee Conti Monopole “. Italian wines from “Gaja”, “Casa Basse”, “Luce”, some of the best from the USA, like “Opus One” and a good selection of “Mondavi” wines. Stuart says, that his father-in-law told him that in order to compete with the ever-expanding convenient shops, one has to specialize in fields where knowledge and expertise matter. Masutoh’s wine and cigar selection shows that Stuart is following his father-in-law’s concept thoroughly. His expertise allows him to stock and recommend not only well-known wine and cigar brand names, but also selections of lesser known brands and vintages. Brands and vintages which, Stuart will tell you, provide good value for the price.
Of course, for a shop to offer the complete price range of wine and cigars involves a lot of work and great knowledge in buying at wholesale. Listening to Stuart explaining on how he and his buyer group got their hands on a few containers of good French “Merlot” wine for a bargain, which Stuart plans to sell at his shop at a very affordable price of 680 yen, makes one realize that he knows his stuff. Same with cigars. Looking for a Cuban cigar for that special occasion? Stuart has them. But where else in Tokyo can one buy a humidor that works for \15000, and for some more yen get a deal with a humidor plus a selection of cigars. The only place we know is Masutoh International Liquor Shop.
For more details on what Masutoh International Liquor Shop is stocking at the moment, visit them at www.masutoh.com
The very informative site provides a Japanese and English language version, plus look for the detailed map on how to get to the shop as well.