Japan is battling a severe whiskey shortage, so hold on to your most expensive bottles

Liquid gold.
Liquid gold.
Image: Reuters/Issei Kato
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If you’re the lucky owner of a bottle of Hakushu 12-year or Hibiki 17-year whiskey, hold on to it.

Suntory, the Japanese drinks giant that owns both those makes of whiskey, will halt sales of the Hakushu starting next month and the Hibiki in September, according to Japanese media reports. The company said the reason was demand far outstripping supply and distillers not being able to produce enough of it.

“It will take quite a long time before we can restart sales of the products,” a Suntory representative told the Nikkei newspaper.

A spokesman for Suntory said in response to a request for comment, “We are very sorry for the temporary discontinuation. We have already invested on the distillery and warehouse, and we will continue various investments to meet the market demand.”

The two tipples are the latest to fall victim to the ongoing whiskey shortage in Japan, as global interest in the country’s spirits explodes. In 2015, Suntory announced it would cease production of the Hibiki 12-year whiskey. Another distiller, Nikka, has imposed strict supply quotas in some countries, and is holding off entering new markets. Suntory has said it will continue to invest in whiskey production in Japan, but will also try to alleviate the shortage by promoting “non-aged” versions of its premium whiskey lines, such as The Chita, according to industry publication The Spirits Business.

Update: The article was updated to include comment from Suntory.