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China and its new found love of Whisky.

Updated on December 7, 2017

Traditionally the market for the consumption of Whiskey in China would have appeared quite small and rather strange. In Chinese society as little as two decades ago, the enjoyment of Whiskey would have seen very much the epitome of western decadence. To even think of asking for a product such as Whiskey, would have been met with snorts of derision or tuts of contempt.

China has many native styles of alcoholic beverages and many regions have their own distinct style. China's most popular spirit is traditionally the drink Baijiu, of this spirit the most well known to the west is the spirit Mao Tai. There is a lot of variety in the spirit from its alcoholic volume to its actual taste. It is not a beverage that has appealed to a global audience, but it is established in China and it has a very large market.

The potential for Whisky is huge in Asia and the people of China are now starting to develop a new found taste for this popular beverage.

A generous measure of Whisky.
A generous measure of Whisky. | Source

A Drink for Everybody

China is a lucrative market for any company that produces a product or markets a service, with over a billion people within its borders, the potential for growth is enormous. China is also an economy on the go and it is creating its own millionaires and billionaires at a steady pace in spite of the current financial downturn. To have a product that appeals to the affluent in any booming economy is a great advantage, to have a product that is wanted by the majority of people irrespective of status is even better.

Whiskey is able to satisfy the desires of all social classes due to the variety of the beverage. The elites of the country can purchase the higher end Whisky to show off their knowledge of the product and the prestige that comes attached to it. The middle classes can go after the obscure and the hidden gems of the Whisky industry such as "Johnnie Walker Black Label".

The lower members of the society can enjoy the lower brand labels of the Whisky and can be seen to be aspiring to the image that the elites convey. This is a very capitalist idea and is now very evident in what is the largest communist state in the world. It is predicted that Whisky will be the drink of choice for China's rapidly growing business elite, while the less fortunate members of society will continue to enjoy their traditional tipple.

The beauty of Whisky for the Chinese is that it has a dual role in their society, not only is it a way to show off the drinker's culture, class and refinement. It is also a way to invest in a product that can mature and grow with age. The Chinese are beginning to appreciate and enjoy the finer things in life, as China at the moment is a State that intends to seek the benefit's of investment in other nations resources, industry and technology. The new found love of Whisky is a continuation of China's progress as a Global giant. It is estimated that soon China will surpass the economy of the United States of America, a country that has been the gold standard of a financial superpower.

In the December of 2012 one of the best known Whisky brands opened a four storey Whisky house to cater to the Chinese luxury drinking market. In this Cathedral of Whisky the rich and famous where able to sample the very best that Whisky producers have to offer. Whisky accounts for over 40% of the foreign import of alcoholic beverages into China. That figure could easily rise in the coming years, as it seems China has a taste for the distinct taste of Whisky.

Cultural drinking habits

China is ideal for the future growth of premium brand Whisky due to the high number of millionaires under the age of 40. With the continued prosperity of China this market could grow even further. The rare and exotic examples of Whisky have reached on average a price of $3,000 a bottle and some of the extremely rare items have been sold for over $100,000. It is no surprise that global drinks companies are clawing over each other to increase their market share in the emerging Chinese market.

For those Chinese who are not super rich, Whisky is still a drink to be savoured by the masses.To supply the wider market with more reasonably priced Scotch. China has started to import more and more blended labels and brands to supply the demand. The sight of home blended Whisky is currently not a common trend, but it is only a matter of time until the market is cornered by enterprising individuals. For now the lower status members of Chinese society will continue to ferment their own drinks or buy the cheaper traditional alternative Baijiu .

Will Whisky be a major commodity for years to come?

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China's Great Wall.
China's Great Wall. | Source

A Thriving Whisky Market?

The market for Whisky is worth billions of Dollars a year and with China catching up with the rest of South East Asia in its thirst for Whisky. The figure is sure to increase at pace within the next decade. Analysts predict that China could become a bigger market than the USA in the future, this would guarantee huge potential earnings for the producers.

Whether the taste for Whisky will be confined to those of higher social status is unknown. With a booming middle class emerging, they will be keen to copy the habit's and trends of the Movie and TV star' who flock into the new imported Whisky Bars. The Chinese have always had a strong culture that incorporates enjoying spirits. Whisky could find itself becoming increasingly popular in China for the foreseeable future.


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Andrew Stewart 5 years ago from England

      Same to you also. I think it is a great chance to increase sales for the Irish and Scottish drink industry!

    • kate grady profile image

      kate grady 5 years ago from close to Moffat, Scotland

      A lot of our smaller distilleries are finding markets in Asia. Its good to know they have taste. Happy Burns night. Slan.

    • Asp52 profile image

      Andrew Stewart 5 years ago from England

      Agreed, I think it does fit in well with their culture. I think cultural attitudes to spirits in Asia are a lot different than most people credit.

    • shin_rocka04 profile image

      shin_rocka04 5 years ago from Maryland

      I'm not surprised because in Asia a lot of people love the sense of age and craftsmanship. Just like with tea, they love to sip and take it neat rather than add sugar and honey. You can expect that with a fine scotch or whiskey like a Johnnie Walker Blue Label or higher.