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TV drama arousing interest in Japanese whisky

Japanese TV show Massan is said to be boosting sales of Nikka whiskey in the country in what is described as the “Japanese Mad Men effect”.

Japanese TV show Massan is being credited for a domestic revival of Japanese whisky sales

Nikka, which is owned by Asahi Breweries, claims sales of Nikka whiskey have been increasing by 50% in the last three months, compared to the same period last year.

The reason is down to the popularity of morning TV show Massan, the NHK drama based on the tale of the “mother and father of Japanese whisky”, Masataka Taketsuru and his Scottish wife, Rita Cowan.

Since it began airing on 29 September this year, Massan has attracted a largely female audience, which Nikka credits with growing sales of its whisky.

Shinichi Hirano, a corporate officer at Asahi Breweries, told Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbui: “The sales show a steady increase that we have never experienced. We hope to make women more familiar with domestic whiskey [sic] to keep this boom alive.”

In reaction to the show’s popularity, Nikka has recreated the company’s original 1956 Black Nikka blended whisky, which will carry an RRP of Y1,700 (£9).

Rival company Suntory has also followed suit, with the recreation of its first Kakubin 1937 blend, which will be released in February at an RRP of Y1,300 (£7).

The series, which is shown in 15-minute episodes six days a week, will be screened until March 2015.

In the lead role of Rita Cowan is US actress Charlotte Kate Fox, who became the first non-Japanese woman to be cast in a leading role by NHK.

AMC’s hit show Mad Men, which has been running since 2007, has been widely credited with inspiring a resurgence in whisky and gin sales, with a renewed interest in classic cocktails like the Martini and Old Fashioned.

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