Suntory Announces Incoming Price Rises

Suntory has announced that they will raise the prices on 117 of their unique offerings, including the much loved Hibiki and Yamazaki ranges. The price increases are set to come into effect on April 1st and will see Japanese whisky lovers everywhere paying as much as 100% more than what they pay today.

The Japanese whisky shortage has been on-going for nearly ten years now, thanks to demand massively outstripping supply as whisky fans around the world vie to get their hands on a bottle.

Of course, this was all started by the Japanese whisky boom, which began in 2003 when the Yamazaki 12 Year Old won Japanese whisky’s first international spirits award. 

The recognition saw Japanese whisky instantly explode on the international market, becoming a favourite of spirits fans overnight. 

As millions of people began to buy Japanese whisky expressions, supplies dwindled and the producers, mainly Suntory and Nikka at the time, couldn’t keep up.

This resulted in prices rising, bottles becoming harder to find and a booming secondary market.

Now, as Suntory prepares to raise their prices once again, the question of why is on everyone’s lips. Surely, with their increased production, they are now closer than ever to being able to fulfil demand? 

One would think that would be the case, however the issue right now is that the popularity of Japanese whisky is growing exponentially, so in order to keep up with that demand, production must also increase exponentially, which is easier said than done.

And that’s before we consider  the maturation time required for some of the most popular releases, like the Yamazaki 18 Year Old.

But are their any other motives behind the price rises? Suntory haven’t specifically said so, but it could be said that these changes ensure the drinks giant’s whisky brands remain in the premium segment of the Japanese whisky industry.

As the popularity of Japan’s whisky has grown, more and more distilleries have popped up around the country. In fact, there are now more than 90 operational whisky distilleries in Japan, when less than 10 years ago there was fewer than 10. 

This growing landscape has put more and more unique expressions into the local market, of varying degrees of quality, and it would make sense if Suntory want to ensure their whiskies are still seen as the pinnacle of the modern Japanese whisky industry.

It’s easy to see how a first single malt from a new distillery being priced at $350, which is more than a Yamazaki 12 will cost you, could lead consumers to believe that as a more expensive whisky, it must be better.

This could cause concern for those at Suntory that their products will become lost among the hundreds of new expressions being released every year, with nothing to differentiate their quality.

With the April 1st changes, Suntory are ensuring that they are moving their prices in line with the discrepancy between supply and demand, but they are also ensuring their products sit in the premium sphere of Japanese whisky, and remain the most sought after expressions on the market.

For the Japanese whisky industry, this a sign of continual growth, highlighting that it continues to go from strength to strength.

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