Kirin Brewery Co. has announced its plan to release two new Japanese whisky brands over the next couple of months. The whiskies – Fuji and Riku – are the first new additions to the Kirin Holdings Co.’s whisky collection in around 15 years.
Kirin hopes the new brands will help expand its market share in Japan and abroad. The move follows widespread shortages of domestic whisky supplies due to its growth in popularity in recent times. A spike in demand by collectors and connoisseurs has forced many distillers to suspend the sale of aged whiskies.
The latest Kirin whisky products
The new Fuji whisky is made using pure whisky from a distillery in Shizuoka Prefecture. The brand takes its name from Mount Fuji, the famous mountain which stretches between the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. The company anticipates that by using the globally-recognised mountain on the product, it will appeal more to consumers in the West.
In contrast, the Riku whisky uses a blend of whiskies from a number of distilleries abroad. The whisky blend is touted to appeal to all manner of whisky drinkers as it tastes well prepared in a variety of ways, including mixed with a dash of water.
However, efforts to broaden the Japanese whisky market may be hindered further by the current global situation.
At a time of year when people usually throw parties to celebrate cherry blossom season, we’re likely to see a significant decline in alcohol sales for companies like Kirin and Suntory
Coronavirus affecting alcohol sales
Takeshi Niinami, chief executive of Suntory, has warned that the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on alcohol consumption will see the spirit manufacturer’s profits take a hit. He expects that recent events in China will prompt more Japanese companies to move production to their home country.
“The trend to shift production lines will be enhanced globally,” said Mr Niinami, who is also a member of an economic advisory panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “China will still be the centre, but production will go back to mother countries to some extent.”
In Japan, with the closure of bars and restaurants, nightlife is almost non-existent. At a time of year when people usually throw parties to celebrate cherry blossom season, we’re likely to see a significant decline in alcohol sales for companies like Kirin and Suntory.
Online drinking: an alternative to bars and restaurants?
Some middle-aged women in Japan created the new trend of on-nomi, a Japanese term for “online drinking”, which allows them to continue socialising with their friends while they are self-isolating.
The women use the teleconferencing app, Zoom, to connect with groups of ten or more to enjoy drinks as they would in a bar or restaurant, while also alleviating the boredom of being confined to their homes amid the virus pandemic. Maybe the alcohol manufacturers could use on-nomi to help boost their sales?
Have you engaged in any online socialising? Let us know how you’ve been dealing with boredom or lack of social interactions in the comment section below.
"Otsumami" - a bite size snack:
Innovation can go a long way in solving problems during difficult times AND you can still enjoy a good drink.