On 16 May 2018, I received a message, ‘Have you heard? It’s official!
Hibiki 17 stop in September and Hakushu 12 stopping next month!’
This news literally rocked the whisky world! What was already a difficult whisky to find, instantly became nearly impossible.
Naturally, the market responded, the principle of supply and demand kicked in, reaching its new equilibrium. Prices will reach its new benchmark to what people are Willing to Pay. So let’s not ask whether ‘is it worth it?’.
What would be a more interesting question is
‘What is the impact of this news on other Japanese whiskies?’
Naturally, we could understand Hibiki 21 and Hakushu 18 will follow the upward trend. More so for Hibiki 21 than Hakushu 18, perhaps it is a brand recognition and taste preference.
How about other Suntory range? Based on the UK auction site Whisky Auctioneer, between January to May 2018, you would pay between $330£ and $360£ for a bottle of Yamazaki 18-year-old. In the current auction ending 4 June 18 (after the Suntory announcement), the prices are between $390£ and $410£, representing a minimum of 15% increase. Of course, there are other major influencing factors such as tax, population, demand profile and different markets etc. But there are some signs indicating that all age statement Japanese whisky is somewhat affected by the news.
It is difficult to understand the market, but perhaps we are seeing a ‘panic’ buying behaviour.
Those who were unsure about Japanese whisky are now going all in. Those who already have some in their collection are of the same mind.
So What’s next? Is it worth buying a bottle now? As a business owner, we are conflicted in answering this question. Perhaps consider the purpose, is it for drinking, collecting or investing. And, perhaps taste some first at your local whisky bar
Have a sip of your favourite dram while you think about it. (I’m loving the Springbank Cask Strength 12 year old!)