business

3 of Japan’s best whiskies about to disappear as shortages loom

26 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

These days, just about everyone knows that Suntory and Kirin make whisky, thanks to their glowing reviews and international marketing muscle (including Suntory’s high-profile placement in "Lost in Translation"). Ask well-informed Japanese whisky fans, though, and they’ll tell you you’re missing out if you haven’t tried the whisky from distiller Nikka.

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Nikka’s founder, Masataka Taketsuru, was the son of a sake maker who bucked the family tradition by moving to Scotland to study chemistry and whisky-making. He returned to Japan with knowledge and experience, plus a Scottish wife, and founded Nikka in Hokkaido in 1934. The company’s whiskies have since earned a reputation among those in the know for their delicious, authentic flavor, and they’ve now become so popular that three varieties are about to disappear from the market completely.

Nikka has announced that at the end of March, it will be discontinuing its Taketsuru Pure Malt 17, 21, and 25-year whiskies. As with Kirin’s Fuji-sanroku Tarajuku Genshu 50 and Suntory’s Hakushu and Hibiki, the soon-to-disappear Taketsuru varieties are victims of their own success: Nikka says they simply don’t have enough supply to keep up with demand.

If you don’t drink much whisky (or maybe if you just drank a ton of it, and aren’t thinking so clearly right now), you might ask why Nikka simply doesn’t make more. If demand is so high, surely they’d sell any extra bottles they produce, right? The numbers for the Taketsuru 17, 21, and 25 years, though, indicate the minimum age of the components that are blended into the bottle, so just having the distillers work double shifts and whip up an extra-large batch isn’t an option.

As consolation, Nikka will continue to sell its younger, no-age-statement Taketsuru Pure Malt, which will be reformulated about the same time the aged varieties are discontinued. However, if you want the old school Taketsurus, now’s the time to pick up a bottle.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Kyodo via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kirin will stop selling one of its most popular whiskies as Japanese spirit shortage continues

-- Two of Japan’s best whiskeys are about to disappear, and no one knows when they’ll be back

-- We visit the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, the newly-renovated, boozy paradise

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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Yeah, well it's thanks to the laws that changed a few years back that forced this to happen as well!

Previously distillers were not required to put 100% aged alcohol into the bottles they sold. A 20 year whiskey would have, in many cases 50% or less actual 20 year whiskey blended into what was sold.

Now, if the label reads 25 years old, 100% of the product must be 25 years old!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Hats off to the japanese makers- they make some great whiskey!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Seems a very good thing to me, a law which forces a company to actually put in the bottle what it says on the label.

second, if the labels are so successful and you can not produce more AND marketing at Nikka would be so good, you raise the price and use the rarity as a sales and marketing asset. Truth more likely being that, yes, some Japanese whiskies are good but they have been pricing themselves out of the market. The price quality balance is no longer there.

finally, the market for whisky in Japan keeps shrinking and abroad Japanese whisky will always be a distant competitor to Scotch, Bourbon and Irish whisky. Whisky drinkers will try it once or twice. I used to drink more Japanese whisky in the past as price / quality was interesting. It is no longer the case. Not even in Japan.

and the non aged version still will do fine for that ice mountain with a whisky twist they call highball. Shear horror

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Truth more likely being that, yes, some Japanese whiskies are good but they have been pricing themselves out of the market. The price quality balance is no longer there.

Quite so! Down here in Okinawa some of the local awamori distillers have been producing a new gin, and it's over 3,000 yen for a bottle!

I mean really, we can buy Bombay's Blue, Tanqueray, and a host of other "name" gin for half the price!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

They are pretty OK but to me nothing beats Craigellachie. I tried this in Inverness in 2003 and have been smitten since. The BEST I have ever tried and can buy it through my local booze shop here in Miyazaki. He orders 5 bottles a year and I buy them January, March, May, August, and October.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yeah, well it's thanks to the laws that changed a few years back that forced this to happen as well!

Yubaru,

are you referring to Japan or internationally? I found an article of a crackdown in the US because of a massive fraud in the Bourbon industry but nothing else.

As an aside, for anyone visiting Sendai, I would recommend a tour of the Nikka distillary. Went there 15 years ago annd was a bit dreary. Went again this autumn and very informative and professional. All about the whiskey!

Gary

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Thats a good news. At least 3 sources of liver damage is now mitigated.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Now be smart... get some of 'em... keep 'em... and sale 'em in 50 years.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I love my whiskey and I've had each of these whiskeys over the years. As well as so many other long-aged whiskeys.

They are something special. People talk about price / quality relative to Scotch whiskey, but I don't view it in those terms. When I have the opportunity to drink a long-aged whiskey, I view it as something to be savored for what it is. And, truthfully, I don't care which one it is, I am privileged to be consuming something that a master has worked very hard to craft.

But, with that said, there are so many wonderful 12 yo whiskeys that are just amazing.

As a side note, every time I go to the U.S., I have a friend who asks me to bring a couple of bottles of IW Harper 12 yo whiskey. Because it is not available in the U.S., even though it is from the U.S.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I've been to the distillery, and there's a bottle of 21 in the liquor cabinet. It's really good scotch, comparable to many from the old country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very good taste and quality but the prices too high compared to finding a good Scotch.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have several bottles which have seen massive price increases recently-amazing...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you might ask why Nikka simply doesn’t make more. If demand is so high, surely they’d sell any extra bottles they produce, right? The numbers for the Taketsuru 17, 21, and 25 years, though, indicate the minimum age of the components that are blended into the bottle, so just having the distillers work double shifts and whip up an extra-large batch isn’t an option.

Yeah, I get that they can't produce more than they've been producing, but they've been making a nice profit from sales of what they can make, so why not continue?

They are pretty OK but to me nothing beats Craigellachie

5,000 yen for a bottle of whiskey? Nothing wrong with Jim Beam ( owned by Suntory now ) bourbon or Early Times and they're only around 1,200 yen.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

It is unfortunate, its  become hard to find any J-single malts these days.

Now there is a bunch of blended whiskey on the shelves & often at higher prices then the single malts of years gone by so I now mostly give it a pass.

If you can try to track down some Ichiro from Chichibu, you WILL enjoy!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They're vatted malts, not single malts, and thus nowhere near the best Suntory has to offer.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've only had the 17 and it was very nice indeed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've been to the distillery, and there's a bottle of 21 in the liquor cabinet. It's really good scotch, comparable to many from the old country.

While it may be good whisky, you cannot call it Scotch. By definition, that must only come from Scotland.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

5,000 yen for a bottle of whiskey? Nothing wrong with Jim Beam ( owned by Suntory now ) bourbon or Early Times and they're only around 1,200 yen.

You’re right that there is nothing wrong with them, but you can get something really good for ¥5,000. My standards are Old Parr and Black Bush which go for ¥2,000 to ¥3,000.

I’m with zichi on the pricing. You can get really cracking Scotch over here for ¥5,000 which makes the Japanese stuff at the same price a bit bland.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

5,000 yen for a bottle of whiskey?

No, ¥5,000 for a bottle of whisky. Different creature.

Cheap whiskey (or even whisky) is fine for mixing with hot water, honey and lemon to clear the sinuses when you've got a cold, or dabbing on a dog tick before removing it.

The better Japanese whiskies are very nice, refined and clear; but yer can't beat a good, smokey, peaty single-malt Scotch.

Invalid CSRF

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Now, if the label reads 25 years old, 100% of the product must be 25 years old!

That's how it should be and it's like that everywhere else. The number on the bottle represents the minimum age of the whiskey inside.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Robertm, "Japanese whisky will always be a distant competitor to Scotch, Bourbon and Irish whisky"

I beg to differ, how come the best, or gold award was given to a Japanese whisky, it was ranked the top number one whisky in the world, as for bourbon, I would not clean my dirty frying pan with it its horrid, but that me,

2 ( +2 / -0 )

as for bourbon, I would not clean my dirty frying pan with it its horrid, but that me,

A bit harsh. Many of them are bland, syrupy or just dull but there are some decent ones. Not a patch on Scotch or Irish in general.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Interesting, sounds like they mismanaged their supply. Flog off all your inventory, then panic when you realise you are running out. Sounds like someone was being shortsightedly greedy.

If you can get Black Bush for 3000 yen (about £21.00) you are lucky, it’s about £26 here.

Recently had Cotswolds, very comparable to Irish whiskeys but alas much more expensive (difference of about 3600 yen!)

Recently there is a much wider variety of Japanese whisky in shops in the UK, perhaps they have prioritised the export market to the detriment of the domestic?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Back in the days Taketsuru 17 was sold for around 7000yen. Then last year 16-18000yen on auction site and now they are 30,000yen or more. Even though they are nice, no way at that price would I pay for it. So many good whiskeys out there for way, way lesser price.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nikka 15 yr old Single Malt: To Die For.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't really like Whisky, but I have a 30 yr old crate of the stuff sitting in a Distillery outside of the Country - what can I do ? :-(

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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