Whiskycast included this quote in their post which was taken from the letters Nikka sent to importers:
“With the current depletion, Yoichi and Miyagikyo malt whiskies, which are the base of most of our products, will be exhausted in the future and we will be unable to continue the business. Although we are now distilling spirits at full capacity, a long maturation period will be required until the spirits can be sold.”
There is also some speculation that Suntory may follow suit due to their lack of distilling during the whisky lake era. Suntory have already announced price hikes on a good portion of their lineup so it’s not looking too great.
Ok so according to the highly reputable Nonjatta blog, Nikka will indeed completely discontinue the list of expressions shown at the bottom of this post (scroll down a while). So basically they are discontinuing all their current single malt expressions (including the current NAS versions) and replacing them with new NAS versions. It may seem strange of them to discontinue their current NAS expressions and release new NAS expressions but I think this is indicative of a shift to using younger whiskies for the NAS range which will alter the flavour profile. This is really honest marketing right here and I really respect that. I just hope they release more expressions soon.
Original Post Below
Nikka has recently posted a final sale notice to retailers in Japan which listed a number of expressions that they will stop selling in August 2015. Surprisingly, within this list are all the core Yoichi and Miyagikyo expressions as can be seen at the bottom of this post.
Please see update above as my speculations below may have been incorrect.
I am not sure if this means that these expressions will be completely discontinued or if they are simply discontinuing it in their home market similar to what Macallan and Glenlivet have done for there 12 year old expressions. Also note that the list comes with bottle sizes. So perhaps they are simply going to reduce bottle sizes to something like 50cl or 35cl to raise unit price while maintaining the affordability of a “bottle”. It seems really strange that they would discontinue the 10 year old as it is basically their flagship whisky in western markets.
Some other blogs are saying that they are flat out discontinuing these expressions but I think that is very unlikely. They may be low on whisky but they could still churn out some of their core ranges. Plus they just released the 12 year old Nikka blend which is comprised of only Nikka Japanese whiskies unlike the Pure Malt series and Nikka Black 8 which incorporates whisky from their Ben Nevis Distillery in Scotland.
Nikka Master Blender Tadashi Sakuma told me (at the Evening with the Blenders 2015 event) that Ben Nevis spirit is much cheaper for them to make than spirit from Yoichi or Miyagikyo. This is one reason why it is used so heavily in the Nikka Black 8 blend. It wouldn’t make sense for them to release an aged statement blend using only their more expensive spirit if they were running that low on aged stocks. I suspect that they are simply segregating their markets to more efficiently accomodate trends. Most whisky consumption in Japan is focused on mixes like Highballs and Mizuwari where more affordable blends are used. While the western markets have developed an appetite for their single malts which command a high price.
So far I have not seen any concrete evidence that they are simply going to stop making all of these expressions for all markets. Either way, I am sure prices for these will now shoot up to astronomical levels. When the dust clears, it should be interesting to see how available these bottles are.
Either way, with all these expressions being discontinued and new NAS expressions coming out, it seems pretty clear that aged whisky stocks are either low or being rationed for some future project.
Granted this is all speculation, and the information doesn’t completely support these ideas since Nikka Black 8 in 70cl is on the list. I guess we will just have to wait anxiously and see what happens to our favourite whiskies from Japan.
I’ll update this post if new information arises.
From the Whisky Warehouse Blog in Japan: