Some of the finest whiskeys in the world come from countries like Scotland, Japan and Australia’s Tasmania. Well, some of them are running out of stock these days!
In the recent few decades, whiskey production in Japan has increased manifold, creating some of the finest whiskeys that are insanely sought-after throughout the world.
The demand for Japanese whiskeys has risen exponentially in a span of fewer than 100 years. But this rising demand is not being met by a proportionate rise in supply. This has led to a steep shoot up in the prices of the existing stock.
It is the aged varieties which have the highest demand. These include the Hibiki 12, 17 and 21-year-old, Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt, Yamazaki 12-year-old, Hakushu 12-year-old etc.
Amongst them, Hibiki 17 year and Hakushu 12 year have been taken off the shelves a few months ago.
The Rise To Glory
The lingering doubt is, what led to such a huge fanatic demand for the Japanese whiskeys?
The years 1970s to the early 2000s saw a global rise in the demand of Western liquors. The then customers weren’t much fascinated by harsh drinks such as Japanese whiskeys.
This led to a drastic fall in consumption. So much so, that many employees either retired or shifted to other companies.
Hibiki 17-year-old blend rose to fame with its advertisement in Bill Murray’s 2003 movie Lost in Translation.
The 2014 television drama titled “Massan” about Masataka Taketsueu, the founder of the Nikka distillery led to a domestic hike in demand for whiskey.
And to add a cherry on top of the cake, in 2013 Jim Murray’s ‘Whiskey Bible’ named Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 as the best whiskey in the world.
Around the same time, tourism in Japan was also increasing, leading to a further rise in the demand and popularity for Japanese whiskeys throughout the world.
The Cascading Shortage
The relentless demand for the whiskeys threatened the shortage in the supply of aged stocks.
This is mainly because the aged varieties take years in their preparation. For instance, the Hibiki 12, 17 and 21 are actually these many years old. But the demand for them wasn’t so high these many years back. The producers then did not store enough of them in their ageing warehouses.
Hence, the aged stocks of whiskey today are exceedingly constrained. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Japanese whiskey has become an investment for people, who buy them at the current prices, hoping to sell them for higher prices in the future.
Where There’s A Will, There’s Whiskey
Companies have started replacing the dwindling aged varieties with equally if not finer non-aged ones. Two major companies, Suntory and Nikka are investing huge amounts in order to increase their whiskey production.
But if you still have a fetish for the aged varieties like Hibiki and Yamazaki, you may have to wait a couple of years, until they can be prepared again by around 2020.
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