Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics Jan-Feb 2016

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 71

54 Beverage Dynamics • January/February 2016 year every few months." "The older age statements (Taketsuru 17, 21, 25, Miyagikyo 12, and Yoichi 15) are white whales," she adds. "Maybe it's out there, but we can't get any." So will distilleries respond with expanded production? "There were steps taken a few years ago, but production remains at capacity," Mundell says. "The timeline for creating Japanese whisky is so massive. And we're living in a world that deals so much with immediacy that this timeline can seem a bit off. But nothing can be done, short of inventing a time machine." Part of this owes to the painstaking methods of making Japanese whisky. Blending is the pre- dominant style. The Japanese assemble whiskies the same way Germans piece together luxury au- tomobiles. Hibiki's new Harmony blend is a mix of more than ten malt and grain whiskies. The ingredients range from sweet to bold to peaty. Japanese whiskies are defi ned by this balance of different fl avors, which is attainable only with the proper time and effort. There may be ways, however, to expedite the process. Robertie believes the lack of an age statement on Harmony is a sign of quickened pro- duction. "By switching to non-age statement exten- sions, companies are able to produce more whisky faster without running out of supply," she says. MODERN RESPONSE It would be tough today to launch Japanese whisky in America as a connoisseur's secret. Consumers post so much onto social media that new, inter- esting products do not remain unknown for long. This, coupled with the craft cocktail movement, has fueled Japanese whisky's rise from niche product to popular rarity. "The way we communicate is so different now. A person can now post a photo from a Tokyo bar and have it read immediately across the rest of the world," Mundell says. NEXT GENERATION Robertie sees similarities between Japanese whisky and the most-desired Bourbons. "Ten years ago, it was easy to walk into any liquor store and fi nd Pappy sitting on the shelf. These days, the secondary market dominates," she explains. "I could see this same trend with the Japanese, espe- cially since they hit the market strong, lasted for a few years, and are now starting to pull back." "It won't be as insane as hunting for the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection," she adds, "but I wouldn't be surprised if Japanese whisky becomes as rare and scarce." Although this creates a seller's market, Mundell remains skeptical. "It's not to anybody's benefi t," he says. "There's a general statement in the industry: 'If you see Japanese whisky, buy it.' People want to experience this whisky. If they can't fi nd it, then that's a bad thing." Nevertheless, responsible stock management must come fi rst, Mundell says, along with the Jap- anese tradition of crafting the best whisky possible. Time is necessary to maintain the integrity of high standards, while also innovating for the next gen- eration of spirits. Once again, Hibiki's Harmony serves as a sym- bol for the category's future. "It was produced for a many reasons," Mundell explains, "one of which was that we wanted to provide people with some- thing that they would be able to drink and fi nd at a reasonable price point." BD LEADING JAPANESE WHISKY BRANDS IN THE CONTROL STATES, 2012-2014 (9-Liter Cases) '13/'14 Brand Supplier 2012 2013 2014 % Chg Suntory Yamazki Beam Suntory 736 856 1,290 50.7% Suntory Hiniki Beam Suntory 31 112 266 137.5% Nikka Anchor Distilling -- 103 299 190.3% The Hakushu Beam Suntory 2 23 65 182.6% Yoichi Anchor Distilling -- 9 25 177.8% Top Five Leading Brands 769 1,103 1,945 76.3% Source: The Beverage Information & Insights Group from NABCA data.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Beverage Dynamics - Beverage Dynamics Jan-Feb 2016