A cheeky (weak pun) provocative little title this week, but perhaps it is not quite what you think.
Or maybe hoped.
Greetings again, as usual, from sunny Shunyi, north east of Beijing, a (good) stones throw from Beijing Capital Airport. Today is Tuesday, 23 of November and I am sure if you live outside of Asia, you know down to the second just how many shopping days there are left Christmas. So, in case the incessant festive ads and Maria Carey are driving you to drink, today, we have just the tonic – gin optional.
Let’s begin today with a wee dram. Diageo , the British alcohol giant, and owner of Johnny Walker Whiskey – among others announced recently plans to build a a 66,000 square meter (217,000 square foot) whisky distillery in Yunan, South China. The 67,000,000 dollar project is expected to be completed by mid 2023. They will produce a Chinese-origin, single malt whisky targeting the country’s “premium” drinkers. This is a clear signal they are going after the market currently “owned” by Kweichow Moutai Co, the producers of Chinese favourite tipple: Baijiu.
Diageo’s optimism and enthusiasm is likely build on strong sales of European top shelf spirits and beers in recent years and a fast growing middle class hungry to try luxury products. There has also been a trend towards whiskey generally in China. However, whilst there is undoubtedly a strong market for western premium alcoholic beverages, it remains to be seen if traditional cultural festivals, such as Spring Festival and weddings will join the trend. You can read the full story on line. we took ours from our colleagues at The Business Times – Singapore: Diageo to make whisky in China to woo premium drinkers
Diageo will not have it all their own way however as, back in 2019 the French firm Pernod Ricard also announced plans to launch a local China made malt whiskey on the market around 2023 from its distillery just a few provinces further north to Diageo, in Sichuan. Caixon Global covered that story back in 2019: In Baijiu Heartland, French Firm Plans Malt Whisky Distillery
Irish whiskey maker, Walsh is also a contender for the China market. Walsh began “testing” shortly after Corona hit their European and US sales the company began testing the water via a Malaysian entry. Citing better virus control and management in Asia generally they expanded inside the region. With success in Japan, Korea, Taiwan they too, also along with other Irish brand are eyeing the China market. This story was originally covered by Nikkei Asia: Irish whiskey makers eye Asia as COVID hits key US market.
Striking a Balance
Now we are all about balance and objectivity here at Aim2D so it would hardly be fair to post without some coverage of Baijiu. As foreign whiskey brands seek to dethrone Chinese local spirit, the reigning champ is not throwing in the towel just yet. It too has plans to take China’s national drink and introduce it to the world. Trouble is; That name! Chinese Distilled Liquor is hardly mouth watering or sensual.
To that end, China’s 2021 Import and Export Tariff Code has created a new official English name for the country’s traditional liquor; “Chinese Baijiu.” OK, nothing really revolutionary or earth shattering. However, to China’s Weibo users it was something more of a grand, momentous occasion with around 16 thousand offering enthusiastic comments about the decision under the hashtag #Chinese-Baijiu-Gets-a-New-English-Name 中国白酒英文名改了. You can read more about all this excitement: Will ‘Chinese Baijiu’ Name Change Propel It To Global Dominance?
Will it indeed?
Who knows, so sit tight, coming soon to a bottle store, pub or off licence near you, Chinese Baijiu. Maybe.
Just the thing for Friday night’s sweet and sour, fried rice or wantons.
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