The shortage comes thanks to several factors. In 2014, a TV drama about Nikka’s founder Masataka Taketsuru caused a spike in sales of Nikka and Suntory whiskies. At the same time Japanese whisky was gaining traction globally and being recognized for its world class quality. Sales were booming, which normally would be great news.
But, the boom came on the heels of a decades long decline in sales. In the early 2000s Japanese whisky sales were at an all time low. Low sales, lead to low production, which meant there was very little mature whisky to be had. With very little old whisky on hand and high current demand, the only solution is for whisky makers to halt sales.
As whisky takes time to mature, it might be years before some of these releases become widely available again. In fact, it could be as many as 10-years before supply catches up. The shortage also means Japanese whisky prices will continue to skyrocket.
In the meantime, Japanese distillers like Nikka have been releasing clear spirits. Hibiki Japanese Harmony, for example, is amazing and pretty widely available stateside.
No word on when Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 will return. So, if you have the means now is the time to snag any remaining bottles.