Food & Drink

The Japanese Whisky From 'Lost in Translation' Will Soon Be Discontinued

Looks like Suntory Spirits is running dry.
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Enthusiasts of Japanese whisky, despair—Suntory Spirits has announced that it will be suspending the production of two of their flagship whiskies: the Hakushu 12 Years and the Hibiki 17 Years. You might remember the Hibiki 17 Years as the whisky that Bill Murray flew to Japan for at the beginning of Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation.

In the award-winning 2003 film, Murray plays an aging actor named Bob, who is hired to do a whisky commercial for the Hibiki. Later, while sitting at the hotel bar and sipping on a glass of the same good stuff, he meets Scarlett Johansson's Charlotte. Lost in Translation focuses on the complex relationship between these two characters, but also gives us some of cinema's most romantic depictions of whisky and whisky-drinking.

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Years after the film's release, around 2008, Japanese whisky began to see a surge in popularity. The segment has since continued to grow, and now has reached a point where demand has exceeded supply. This prompted Suntory to discontinue the their two main whiskies until it can bring its production capacity up to pace.

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According to The Nikkei Asian Review, Japan's whisky shipment volumes grew nine percent last year, to more than double their levels in 2008. Suntory's domestic whisky production doubled within the same period, but the distillery is still having trouble keeping up with the demand. That's a testament to just how much the world has grown to love Japanese whisky.

Suntory expects to start clearing shelves by September of this year. Meanwhile, the company will continue to put up more stills and expand their aging cellars. "It will take quite a long time before we can restart sales of the products," a Suntory representative told the Asian Review. "We will give top priority to quality, and market the products by emphasizing quality over quantity."

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