May 17, 2018
Tokyo- Shortages of Japanese whiskey are becoming more acute due to the product's growing popularity.
Demand for Japanese whiskey has been growing amid its improved global recognition following prizes in overseas competitions as well as the popularity of highball, or whiskey mixed with soda.
Distillers are racing to boost capacity to meet demand, but it is difficult to increase output quickly as whiskey production takes time.
Suntory Spirits Ltd. will suspend sales of two popular whiskey products, Hakushu 12 Years and Hibiki 17 Years, from June due to supply shortages.
The unit of Suntory Holdings Ltd. was forced to suspend sales of another whiskey product in 2016 for similar reasons.
Nikka Whisky Distilling Co., a unit of Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. <2502>, ended sales of some of its products in 2015.
Made from distilled malt and water, whiskey is matured in casks, generally for more than a decade.
A Suntory Spirits official said that the company did not anticipate the recent growth in demand more than 10 years ago, when whiskey was placed in casks.
Japanese whiskey shipments totaled about 140,000 kiloliters last year, more than double the amount in 2007 when demand bottomed out after peaking in the 1980s.
Suntory Spirits has invested some 29 billion yen since 2013 to increase its production and storage capacity.
Nikka last year restored mothballed facilities at its distillery in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, to boost production.
But whiskey shortages are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. Jiji Press
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