Suntory had to guess how much whiskey they’d need over a decade ago, and they guessed wrong.

Suntory’s beer may not have achieved the overseas success of competitors Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo, but when it comes to whiskey, the company stands above all of its Japanese rivals. Connoisseurs around the world sing the praises of Suntory’s whiskey, but soon they might have to settle for fondly remembering certain varieties.

Suntory’s best-known whiskey brands are Hakushu and Hibiki (often marketed as “The Hakushu” and “The Hibiki”), and they’ve become so popular that the company is running out. Specifically, it’s Hakushu 12 Year and Hibiki 17 Year that are becoming scarce, with Suntory citing unexpectedly high demand from Japanese customers as the reason why (implying that overseas demand is about what they’d predicted).

There isn’t much time until the company’s reserves dry up, either. Suntory says that Hakushu 12 Year will likely be disappearing from stores sometime next month, and you’ll have to toast farewell to Hibiki 17 Year around September.

Those of you who don’t drink much whiskey (or, alternatively, those of you who’re drinking a lot of whiskey right now, and thus have your brain working in an inebriated/reduced capacity), may be wondering why Suntory doesn’t just whip up more of the popular spirits. But the “12 Year” and “17 Year” designations aren’t just marketing buzzwords or subtle attempts to encourage underage drinking. Those are the minimum amounts of time the Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 have to age during their production process, and Suntory has been caught short after underestimating demand over a decade ago. Ramping up an immediate supply following a demand spike simply isn’t possible.

On the bright side, Suntory says it has no plans to halt sales of its Hakushu 18 Year or Hibiki 21 Year. There is the possibility, though, that unsatisfied demand for Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 will push customers to buy the 18 and 21 alternatives, and that extra demand could in turn, theoretically, cause a shortage for them as well.

Thankfully, we’re probably not going to have to wait 12 and 17 years for the two Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 to return, since production is carried out on a continual basis. Once again, though, we could see a situation in which their absence has buyers ready to snap up as many bottles as they can once they’re on sale again, which would trigger another shortage since, as mentioned above, supply at any moment is based on demand predictions from 12 or 17 years ago.

While Suntory has given us a timeframe on when it’s going to stop selling the Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17, it’s released no timetable for when they’ll return to stores, so if you’re keen to score a bottle of either, you’ll want to act now. And if you happen to already have a some Hakushu 12 or Hibiki 17, cherish it, since it might become valuable like a bottle of Final Fantasy whiskey.

Source: IT Media
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