Yoichi 10, 12, 15 and 20 year old, is this over ? Aged versions of the famous Nikka's peated single malt should formally disappear, and will be the first victims of the old Japanese whiskies stocks depletion.
Even if the rumor swelled over the past few months, the news just broke into the Japanese media (The Hokkaido Shimbun) ; in August 2015 Nikka Whisky will stop bottling and saling the entire aged single malts range of Yoichi distillery, founded by Masataka Taketsuru in 1934 on Hokkaido island.
But on the other hand, the first Nikka's distillery doesn't stop distilling whisky at all, it's curently producing single malts in order to create new products (presumably without age statement), but also to replenish old single malts stocks for the future, and to ensure the continuity in the production of the wide whisky range such as Taketsuru whiskies, Pure Malt Red, Black and White...
The old Japanese whiskies stocks depletion was caused by a higher demand than supply due to several factors including "Massan" tv show broadcasting (more informations in a previous article), Chinese tourism explosion in Japan, or increasing worldwide demand directly induced by the numerous awards won over the recent years by the Japanese whiskies.
Like Scottish producers a few years ago, Japanese don't have enough old whiskies to enable them to compose their aged ranges and they will be forced to stop saling them or at least seriously reduce bottlings in the coming years.
Concerning Nikka Whisky, the end of aged ranges started with Yoichi distillery single malts, but the future is also uncertain for the rest of the range such as Miyagikyo single malts, and Taketsuru pure malts which are actually composed with single malts from both brand distilleries.
Yoichi 10, 12, 15 and 20 year old single malts will pass to posterity by becoming collector and will probably be objects of speculation in the coming years. But if today some people are trying to improvise themselves into Japanese whisky amateur speculators, they will be very disappointed because it's almost too late to find affordable Yoichi aged bottles, in fact there are only a few bottles still available on the regular market.
If Nikka is the first victim of the depletion with the end of Yoichi single malts aged range and maybe later with Miyagikyo and Taketsuru, Suntory may perhaps suffer the same fate with Yamazaki and Hakushu single malts aged ranges, as well as Hibiki aged versions. Same situation for Kirin and its Fuji Sanroku 18 year old single malt which future is also uncertain.
Consequently, a big part of Japanese whisky will be deeply evolving in order to renew and satisfy the increasing demand, and producers are already working on the future with new releases that will be unveiled in the coming months.
Source : Yahoo Japan