The shortage of major Japanese whiskies continues. The latest word around town is that Suntory and Nikka are planning to temporarily suspend or discontinue several more of their popular whiskies at the end of March. This is in addition to the already revealed discontinuation of Fuji Sanroku Tarujuku 50° by Kirin.
In the world of Nikka, The Nikka 12 will be discontinued. This was the last affordable and readily available Japanese whisky with an age statement. For those of you following our Facebook, you already know that the NAS replacement for this will probably be called The Nikka Tailored, and it will be released in April. Unfortunately, we now also know that Nikka is temporarily suspending the acclaimed Nikka Coffey Malt and Nikka Coffey Grain whiskies. How long is temporary? No firm answer from them.
For Suntory, things are striking even closer to the core of the company's whisky business. They are temporarily suspending sales of the smaller 350ml Chita whisky--a grain whisky--which is an indicator of how bad things have gotten for Suntory. Suntory Kakubin White Label--all of it!--is also getting the axe, save the canned mizuwari version you find in combinis. Perhaps of greater concern though is the suspension of the 450ml combini-sized Suntory Kakubin. The yellow label Suntory Kakubin is by far Japan's best-selling Japanese whisky, and if Suntory cannot keep it flowing, I would expect an impact on the company's bottom line and stock price. The timing of their announcement of Suntory World Whisky Ao makes much more sense now. As with Nikka, these suspensions are supposed to be temporary, but they have provided no firm target for resuming shipments.
UPDATE 18-Jan 7:53PM JST: Suntory has now confirmed the suspensions via a response to an inquiry made via email. Nikka has not yet responded.
UPDATE 21-Jan 11:22AM JST: Nikka has now also confirmed the discontinuations and suspensions via email.
In 2018, all major Japanese whisky manufacturers announced plans to build up capacity at their distilleries. Hopefully these suspensions and discontinuations won't last long!
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.