A Suntory Holdings Ltd. subsidiary will suspend selling two leading whisky brands due to a shortage of unblended whisky amid the growing popularity of the spirit at home and abroad.
Suntory Spirits Ltd. said it will stop selling its single-malt whisky "Hakushu 12 Years Old" from June and its blended whisky "Hibiki 17 Years Old" from September. It has yet to decide on when it will resume selling the brands.
Suntory -- Japan's first whisky maker -- is not able to meet demand that has surged over the past decade amid the popularity among young people of highballs -- drinks made by mixing whisky and soda.
(Japanese whisky distiller Suntory holds a sampling event in New York in May 2017)
Domestic shipments of whisky have more than doubled to 137,000 kiloliters in 2017 from 60,900 kiloliters in 2007, according to Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association.
Japanese whisky has recently gained recognition worldwide through international awards, prompting rising demand in overseas markets.
Suntory's "Hibiki 21 Years Old" and "Hakushu 25 Years Old" have won top awards in international competitions in recent years.
Suntory is expanding their whisky storage capacity with a new storage facility at its distillery in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, and a whisky cellar in Shiga Prefecture, western Japan.