Suntory: Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki etc. getting 5 to 28% MSRP increase

Suntory has put out a press release announcing suggested retail price increases for the Japan domestic market of essentially their entire premium whisky portfolio. This includes all of the company’s current lineup of Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki, and Chita, as well as imported whiskies.

The company cites increased demand as a reason for the price hike. They’ve made several investments in recent years to expand capacity, but they say it’s still not enough: they apparently want to fund even more investment to build even more capacity.

The below prices take effect with shipments beginning on April 1, 2022. As you can see, the more premium the bottle, the bigger price hike.

Suntory Price Increase

wdt_ID Name Size Old Price (JPY) New Price (JPY) % increase
1 Hibiki Japanese Harmony 700ml 5000 5500 10%
2 Hibiki Blender's Choice 700ml 10000 12000 20%
3 Hibiki 21 700ml 25000 32000 28%
4 Hibiki 30 700ml 125000 160000 28%
5 Yamazaki NAS 700ml 4200 4500 7%
6 Yamazaki NAS 180ml 1140 1250 10%
7 Yamazaki 12 700ml 8500 10000 18%
8 Yamazaki 12 50ml 730 880 21%
9 Yamazaki 18 700ml 25000 32000 28%
10 Yamazaki 25 700ml 125000 160000 28%
11 Hakushu NAS 700ml 4200 4500 7%
12 Hakushu NAS 180ml 1140 1250 10%
13 Hakushu 12 700ml 8500 10000 18%
14 Hakushu 18 700ml 25000 32000 28%
15 Hakushu 25 700ml 125000 160000 28%
16 Chita NAS 700ml 3800 4000 5%
17 Chita NAS 350ml 1900 2000 5%
18 Chita NAS 180ml 1030 1130 10%

Notably, prices of their mid/low-range whiskies like Kakubin and Royal will remain the same.

Suntory is also increasing the Japanese domestic market prices for its imported malts such as Macallan, Glenfiddich, Balvenie. Notably here too, the company’s imports of American whiskies like Jim Beam remain

Whiskey Richard’s Take

If you thought it was already hard to find these whiskies in Japan at retail prices, think again. They’ve just given basically anyone in the country five months to scramble and buy as much as they can at current prices.

I’m not quite sure I buy their justification though. As a group, the company had a solid 16% increase in profitability for the first half of 2021, so it’s not like they’re struggling under COVID-19. The alcohol business in particular has seen explosive growth of RTDs in recent years. It looks to me they’re digging deeper into customers’ wallets rather than their own.

On the other hand, whisky is a tough business to be in because of the long maturations consumers have come to desire and demand. An across-the-board price increase is rare for Suntory, so here’s hoping that moves like this will help alleviate the current shortages.

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