MORE SUSPENSIONS, JAPANESE WHISKIES IN SEVERE SHORTAGE DUE TO HIGHBALLS COCKTAIL
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Japanese whisky is in severe shortage due to the popularity of a whisky and soda cocktail called Highballs in Japan. The shortage has caused Suntory Spirits to announced suspension of six more of its Japanese whisky products at the end of March.
The popularity of Highballs in Japan has been fuelled by a NHK drama series called “Massan” which was set in a distillery in Hokkaido.
The six products to be suspended by Suntory include the higher-end Chita 35cl and Kakubin 45cl, as well as the mass market Shirokaku line in various volumes.
The suspension will allow Suntory Spirits to use the unblended whisky intended for the six products for its mainstay products such as Kakubin 70cl amid the current whisky shortage.
"We'll prevent the stable supply of our leading products from being affected," said a Suntory Holdings official.
Another Japanese spirit maker, Kirin Brewery Co, also announced earlier that they would suspend shipment of its 70cl Fuji-Sanroku Tarujuku Genshu 50 whisky.
Last May, Suntory Spirits suspended two of their premium whisky products, Hakushu 12 Years and Hibiki 17 Years. The latest suspension proved that lower-end products are being affected as well.
In the face of the acute supply shortage, Japanese retailers are importing whiskies from Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia to meet the high demands.
Major Japanese whisky makers are strengthening production and storage capacity to improve the situation.
Kirin Brewery Co. is considering its first capital investment in half a century in its Fuji Gotenba distillery in Shizuoka Prefecture to increase the stock of unblended whisky.
Suntory Spirits Ltd. plans to enhance its storage capacity by 20 percent by 2020 through an 18-billion-yen investment in the storage facilities of its Hakushu distillery in Yamanashi Prefecture and elsewhere.
Nikka Whisky Distilling Co. made capital investments totaling 6 billion yen over three years to increase production capacity. It also resumed operations of some facilities at the Miyagikyo distillery in Sendai.
(the writer can be contacted at: SLawMathews@thewinechronicle.com)
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