Get it while you can

14th November, 2011 by Dominic Roskrow

If you’re a fan of Japanese whisky it might be a good idea to grab a bottle while you can: it could be in short supply before too long.

Keen eyed drinkers will have spotted that particularly older expressions of Japanese whiskies such as Yamazaki 18 year old have been shooting up in price. And it seems that some expressions are disappearing altogether.

The reason? Japanese whisky has become a victim of its own success. A double whammy of countless awards across the world combined with the success of the Japanese Highball – a long serve of Japanese whisky and soda water over ice – in Japan itself, has meant unprecedented demand for the drink.

Older and rarer expressions are disappearing particularly quickly.

“The truth is that 18 years ago nobody making whisky in Japan foresaw all the awards and the runaway successes across the world,” commented one industry insider. “They simply didn’t put down enough whisky each year to mature for 18 years because they didn’t predict such a demand for it. Whiskies such as Yamazaki 18 year old have been rising significantly in price. For some time but now they’re in danger of disappearing from the shelves altogether.”

But younger whiskies could also be hit by the trend among younger Japanese consumers to drink whisky Highballs.

An industry insider said that Suntory are sending hundreds of cases in the United Kingdom back to Japan.

“There’s a worldwide boom for whisky in general and some tough decisions are being made,” he said. “And it seems Britain might suffer due to the new demand in Japan.”

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