The beverage company hopes the increases will help build the capital needed to increase production. 

Whisky is on the rise as a popular drink throughout the world, and while that might mean that there are more people than ever to enjoy a glass with, it also means there’s more demand. Unfortunately, in Japan that means a whisky can completely sell out or disappear because the demand completely outstrips the supply. Or, in a different effect of insufficient demand, whisky makers increase their prices.

In fact, Japanese drink manufacturer Suntory has announced that starting next spring, they’ll be increasing domestic prices of some of their in-house and imported whiskies by up to 28 percent. Suntory has been investing in additional casks and storage warehouses in recent years in order to meet the increasing demand for whisky, but they still haven’t been able to keep up with the rising demand for some of their products.

As such, the company has decided to increase the domestic prices of 31 different products from eight brands of whisky they produce and import, with the hopes of using the profits as capital to increase distilling capabilities and storage capacity. Prices will rise by between five and 28 percent. The brands affected are Suntory’s Hibiki, Yamazaki, Shirasu, and Chita, as well as the Scottish whisky brands Macallan, Glenfiddich, and Balvenie and the Irish whisky Tullamore D.E.W, which Suntory has a monopoly on importing to Japan.

Luckily for casual whisky drinkers, the price of Suntory’s less expensive products will not be increasing much. Suntory has released a full list of all the products whose prices will rise, and the products with a suggested retail price already under 10,000 yen (US$88) are mostly seeing rises of less than 15 percent. The suggested retail price for Suntory’s 700-milliliter (23.7-ounce) Yamazaki bottle, for example, increases from 4,200 yen to 4,500 yen, a difference of only seven percent.

More expensive bottles are seeing the biggest price jumps. The 25-year Yamazaki, for example, originally retailed for 125,000 yen, but starting in April will increase by 28 percent, to 160,000 yen. The 30-year and 21-year Hibiki, 18-year Yamazaki, 25-year and 18-year Shirasu, and 30-year Macallan Sherry Oak will all see their prices jump by 28 percent.

Japanese whisky fans responses to the price increase have included:

“Glenfiddich 12’s price going from 4,000 to 4,600 (a 15 percent increase) hurts a little…”
“Suntory’s price increases were a major shock! It feels like it won’t be just Suntory who increases their prices, and that’s what’s scary…”
“Suntory announced price increases for its whiskies, but I’m relieved to see that Royal, Reserve, and Old aren’t included.”
“I heard that Suntory is increasing its price of Hibiki 21 from 25,000 yen to 32,000 yen, but I bought one the other day for 79,800 yen…so how far in the future am I?”
“I’m not really that affected by them raising prices since I jump at buying Yamazaki 12 for 17,380 yen [when the suggested retail is currently 8,500 yen], but if they’re going to raise prices, I would like for them to stabilize the prices, too.”

As you can see from the comments, due to high demand and low supply, whisky prices in Japan are already well over the suggested retail prices, so an increase in the suggested retail price probably doesn’t mean much to whisky fans at the moment. Though it will take some time, hopefully the increase in profits will help Suntory increase its production capabilities, which will ultimately stabilize whisky prices in Japan.

The new pricing will go into effect starting on April 1, so if you want to stock up or treat yourself to a nice bottle of whisky, you’ll want to do it before then! And if you don’t have tens of thousands of yen to drop on a bottle of whisky, you can always try Don Quixote’s whisky gatcha machine…if you really want to test your luck.

Sources: Yomiuri Shimbun via Yahoo! News via Otacom, Gurume Watch, Twitter
Images: Suntory
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