Trail Blazers

17 February, 2017

“When I first went to Japan it was unusual and exotic,” he says. “Now it is very much on everyone’s radar. Liquor store owners and duty free operators will be rubbing their hands in anticipation.”

With the Rugby World Cup coming to Japan in two years and the prospect of a Japanese-staged Olympics the year after, all Japan’s whisky producers are determined to have significant amounts of whisky available.

“Both events will be hugely important,” says Miller. “If I recall correctly, the target for tourists to Japan for 2020 was 20 million but this has been amended (in view of 19 million visitors to the country last year) to 40 million.”

Maxxium’s Ashley agrees, and adds that there is a worldwide objective too. “There is a huge opportunity to bring Japanese whisky to the global audience with these key events,” she says.

“As we saw with cachaça and the Rio Olympics, the world is drawn not only to the events themselves but to the culture of the hosting country.

“As Japanese whisky continues to make its mark on Japanese culture, people desire to invest their interest in the phenomenon. London particularly shares a great fascination with Japanese culture and 10% of restaurant openings in 2015-2016 were Japanese. This interest in Japanese food and drink is set to grow.”

So as we enter 2017, it’s as it was for Japanese whisky. The big question, though, is can it retain its reputation and popularity indefinitely when much remains out of the reach of most whisky drinkers, particularly in light of the increasing flow of New World whiskies?

Only time will tell.





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