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China and it's new found love of Whiskey.

Updated on June 19, 2013

Traditionally the market for the consumption of Whiskey in China would have appeared quite small and rather strange. In Chinese society as little as Twenty years 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 tut's of contempt. China has many styles of alcoholic beverages and many regions have their own regional style. China's most popular spirit is traditionally the drink Baijiu, of this spirit the most well known to Westerner's is the spirit Mao Tai. There is a lot of variety in the spirit from it's alcoholic volume to it's 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 Whiskey is huge in Asia and the people of China are now starting to develop a new found taste for the stuff.

A generous measure of Whiskey.
A generous measure of Whiskey. | Source

A Drink for everybody

China is a lucrative market for any company that produces a product or market's a service, with over a Billion people within it's border's the potential is enormous. China is also an economy on the go and is creating it's own millionaire's and billionaire's at a steady pace in spite of the current Global financial meltdown. To have a product that appeal's 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 desire's of all social classes due to the variety of the beverage. The elite's of the country can purchase the high end Whiskey's to show off their knowledge of the product and the prestige attached to it. The middle classes can go after the obscure and the hidden gems of the Whiskey industry such as "Johnnie Walker Black Label". The lower member's of the society can enjoy the lower brand labels of the Whiskey and can be seen to be aspiring to the image that the elite's 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 Whiskey 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 Whiskey 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 nation's resources, industry and technology. The new found love of Whiskey 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 Whiskey brand's opened a four storey Whiskey house to cater to the Chinese luxury drinking market. In this Cathedral of Whiskey the rich and famous where able to sample the very best that Whiskey producers have to offer. Whiskey 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 Whiskey.

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

Cultural drinking habits

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

For those Chinese who are not super rich, Whiskey is still a drink to be savoured by the masses.To supply the wider market with more reasonably priced Whiskey's China has started to import more and more blended labels and brands to supply the demand. The sight of home blended Whiskey 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 Whiskey be a major commodity for years to come?

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Thriving Whiskey Market

The market for Whiskey is worth Billions of Dollars a year and with China catching up with the rest of South East Asia in it's thirst for Whiskey, the figure is sure to increase in the next decade. Analyst's predict that China could become a bigger market than the USA in the future, with such potential the effects on drink's giants profit's will be huge.

Whether the taste for Whiskey 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's who flock into the new Western Whiskey Bars. The Chinese have always had a strong heritage of enjoying spirits, and Whiskey could be in China for a long time to come.


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 4 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 4 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

      Asp52 4 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 4 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.