Statistics on the value of whisky exports (2018)


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

Item Export value (Unit: thousand yen)

Year-on-year change (Unit: %)

Sake 22,231,502 119.0
Whisky 14,977,532 109.8
Beer 12,874,183 100.0
Liqueurs 5,671,642 113.9
Gin & Vodka 2,208,328 320.0
Shochu 1,529,620 99.5
Wine 280,978 55.3



Total 61,827,021 113.4

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)

Rank Country

Export value (Unit: million yen)

Year-on-year change (unit: %)

1st place



2nd place South Korea 11,066 102.9
3rd place China 6,541 149.3
4th place Taiwan 5,910 111.3
5th place Hong Kong 5,821 121.4
6th place France 3,333 103.3
7th place Singapore 3,148 113.7
8th place The Netherlands 2,479 105.6
9th place Australia 2,407 126.7
10th place Vietnam 1,830 210.8

3. 2018 Whisky export destination value

Rank Country Export value (Unit: million yen) Year on year (Unit: %)
1st place U.S.A. 4,162 120.0
2nd place France 2,778 101.4
3rd place The Netherlands 1,481 82.3
4th place Taiwan 1,302 107.0
5th place Singapore 1,248 115.3
6th place China 1,171 274.2
7th place Vietnam 763
8th place Australia 474 97.0
9th place Hong Kong 302 134.2
10th place Korea 129 157.3

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 whisky, “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.

(1).Whisky Galore Vol.29 December 2021 issue

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 whisky 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

(2). Japanese Whisky as an Education for Business

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.

(3). Whisky and I (Masataka Taketsuru)

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 whisky 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.

(4). A Letter of Challenge from a New Generation Distillery

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 whisky? 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 whisky 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.

新海 博之

Born July 17, 1981 in Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido, Japan
After graduating from university, joined NTT Data Customer Service Corporation as a new graduate.
2010: Opened "Azabujuban BAR Shinkai" → 2016: Developed specialty "Yakuzen Curry" → 2018: Opened "Toranomon BAR Shinkai" and in 2019 "Shibadaimon BAR Shinkai" → 2020: Started web media "Japanese Whisky Dictionary".
We will daily communicate the appeal of Japanese whiskey as something we, as bartenders, can do.

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