Breaking News: During a conversation, a spokesperson from Suntory confirmed that the Yamazaki distillery will not be releasing the much-anticipated Yamazaki Limited Edition 2018. The famed range started with a bottling in 2014 and new releases have launched each year since, in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Some have speculated and the rumour has been around for months, which escalated when the Suntory summer collection didn’t include the Yamazaki release. However, fans were hoping the second half of 2018 would bring the launch of this year’s installment, but that sadly won’t be happening now that the news is official.
Just days ago, I broke the news that the famed Suntory Hibiki 17 Year-Old is to be discontinued in Japan from September 2018 onwards. Suntory also confirmed that the Hakushu 12 Year-Old will suffer the same fate. It will be removed from the core line-up from June 2018, with timings in export markets still being decided. While the discontinuation isn’t expected to be permanent, it will be a while before we see the re-release of these loved expressions.
The Yamazaki Limited range has brought a new exciting bottling to fans each year since its inception in 2014. The single malt range consists of vintages of many ages, matured in a variety of oak casks. Unlike the Hibiki 17 and Hakushu 12, the Yamazaki Limited bottlings are, as the title suggests, limited, and thus not guaranteed to be released annually. This also means that the range could return in the coming years if stock permits.
With the exciting release of the Essence of Suntory bottlings earlier this year, perhaps we can expect other limited Suntory whiskies to roll out in the near future.
Concerning the core bottlings, Suntory tells me that over $250 million has been invested since 2013 in expanding the facilities and ramping up production at the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries. So, while the discontinuation of these loved, aged bottlings is not the best news, fans may see their return in the years to come.
All in all, 2018 hasn’t been the best for Japanese whisky lovers so far. Here’s hoping the rest of it brings some good news, or at least no more bad news.