In 2018, the value of alcoholic beverage exports reached approximately 61.8 billion yen, a record high for the seventh consecutive year.
In particular, whisky is now recognized worldwide for its quality, and the export value of whisky surpassed that of beer in 2015, taking second place to sake.
- 1. 2018 Alcoholic Beverage Export Value by Product Category
- 2. 2018 Alcoholic Beverage Export Destinations (by Country)
- 3. 2018 Whisky export destination value
- 4. Considerations and Summary
- 5. Domestic whisky trends
- Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky
1. 2018 Alcoholic Beverage Export Value by Product Category
|Item||Export value (Unit: thousand yen)|
Year-on-year change (Unit: %)
|Gin & Vodka||2,208,328||320.0|
The outstanding growth was seen in “gin” . On a stand-alone basis, the year-on-year growth was 309.9%.
The rapid growth was the result of the global popularity of “craft gin” which led to an increase in production and exports as major beer makers such as Suntory and Asahi Breweries and shochu makers entered the market one after another.
The big move came in 2017. The export value of alcoholic beverages greatly exceeded that of the previous year by 4258.7%, and in 2018, the export value showed further growth, reaching 309.9% of the previous year’s level.
2. 2018 Alcoholic Beverage Export Destinations (by Country)
Export value (Unit: million yen)
Year-on-year change (unit: %)
|2nd place||South Korea||11,066||102.9|
|5th place||Hong Kong||5,821||121.4|
|8th place||The Netherlands||2,479||105.6|
3. 2018 Whisky export destination value
|Rank||Country||Export value (Unit: million yen)||Year on year (Unit: %)|
|3rd place||The Netherlands||1,481||82.3|
|9th place||Hong Kong||302||134.2|
4. Considerations and Summary
Japanese whisky has won numerous awards at international whisky competitions, which has increased the global popularity of Japanese whisky, and the rapid increase in inbound tourism has further increased the number of Japanese whisky fans.
In addition, the increase in the number of Japanese restaurants overseas has also led to an increase in the consumption of domestically produced sake.
The top 10 countries in terms of overall liquor export value all showed year-on-year increases. Among them, “China” (149.3% y/y) and “Vietnam” (210.8% y/y) showed dramatic growth.
As for the export value of whiskey, “China” (274.2% over the previous year) and “Vietnam” (out of the range of the previous year) also showed significant growth.
“South Korea” which ranks second in terms of overall liquor export value, ranks 10th in terms of whisky export value, and exports more beer (7,879 million yen) than whisky (beer export value is by far the largest).
5. Domestic whisky trends
In 2018, representative whisky releases in Japan included Suntory’s Hibiki Blender’s Choice, Nikka’s Yoichi and Miyagikyo Manzanilla Wood Finish, Akkeshi Newborn Foundation 1 and 2 from the Akkeshi Distillery, and Kanosuke Newborn 2018 from the Kanosuke Distillery. The representative brands are
The so-called 2016 group, including the Akkeshi and Kanosuke distilleries, started releasing their products in 2018.
In addition, the Yuza distillery in Yamagata Prefecture started operation in November 2018.
Chugoku Brewery (now Sakurao Brewery and Distillery) in Hiroshima Prefecture established and started operation of SAKURAO DISTILLERY in 2018 as a commemorative project for the 100th anniversary of its founding.
Lastly: Recommended Books on Japanese Whisky
If you want to learn more about Japanese whisky, which is a global trend, we highly recommend these books.
In the December 2021 issue of Whisky Galore, published by the Whisky Culture Research Institute, we report on 11 Japanese craft distilleries, including some that are open to the public for the first time, under the title of “Japanese Whisky Craft Frontline,” the first of three consecutive issues. Why did the popularity of Japanese whiskey and the craft boom occur? We will examine with interviews. Chichibu Distillery / Chichibu No.2 Distillery / Mars Shinshu Distillery / Mars Tsunuki Distillery / Kanosuke Distillery / Hioki Distillery / Ontake Distillery / Osuzuyama Distillery / Kaikyo Distillery / Hanyu Distillery / Konosu Distillery
This is a book written by Mamoru Tsuchiya, a world-famous whisky critic and representative of the Whisky Culture Research Institute, titled “Japanese Whisky as a Culture that Works for Business” .
The book covers the basics of whisky, the introduction of whisky to Japan, the birth of Japanese whisky, advertising strategies and the rise of Japanese whisky, and the current rise of craft distilleries. This is a book that summarizes Japanese whisky in a very easy to understand way.
Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, devoted his life to brewing whisky in Japan. This is a revised and reprinted version of the autobiography of a man who simply loved whiskey and talked about himself. The book vividly depicts the days when he went to Scotland alone to study as a young man and overcame many hardships to complete Japanese whisky, as well as his companion, Rita.
Launching in 2019. With the world experiencing an unprecedented whisky boom, what were the managers of craft distilleries thinking and what were their thoughts as they took on the challenge of making whiskey? This book tells the stories of 13 craft distillery owners, including Ichiro Hido of Venture Whisky, famous for his Ichirose Malt, who inspired the birth of craft distilleries in Japan.
(5). Whiskey Rising
This is the Japanese version of Whisky Risng, published in the US in 2016, with much updated content. Not only does it describe the history of Japanese whiskey in detail, but it also includes data on all the distilleries in Japan, including the craft distilleries that have been founded in recent years. The book also includes descriptions of the legendary bottles that have been released, as well as information on bars where Japanese whisky can be found.