Diageo and Yanghe baijiu owner launch new whisky
Johnnie Walker owner Diageo has developed a “new-to-world whisky” as part of a new joint venture with Chinese baijiu producer Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery.
Described as a “premium taste of east and west”, Zhong Shi Ji whisky has been created by Diageo’s Scotch whisky master blender Craig Wallace and China Alcoholic Drinks Association’s Chinese baijiu master Zhou Xinhu.
The product has been launched under the Jiangsu Yanghe Diageo Spirit Company, a new joint venture formed between the UK drinks giant and Yanghe, China’s third largest baijiu distiller.
Zhong Shi Ji is made through a “unique” production method, which includes “softening” whisky through Chinese ceramic pot maturation.
The new whisky taps into the meal occasion in China, with 80% of alcohol consumption taking place during meals.
C.H. Chu, managing director of Diageo Greater China, said: “Diageo has long regarded China as one of the world’s most important emerging markets for whisky.
“With accelerated urbanisation and a fast-growing middle class, Chinese consumers are demanding both choice and quality.
“We believe that Zhong Shi Ji can play an important role in the Chinese dining occasion, launching a new era for whisky drinkers in China.
“Through our new partnership with Yanghe, we are well placed to leverage our strengths in craftsmanship, brand building and distribution.”
According to IWSR 2017 data, China is the world’s largest total beverage alcohol (TBA) market, delivering an annual retail sales value of US$178 billion. Its national spirit, baijiu, is the largest alcohol category in the world.
Zhu Wei, vice president of Yanghe, added: “Zhong Shi Ji is a gift from both Yanghe and Diageo. The two companies are committed to this exciting new partnership and to leveraging our combined expertise in supply chain, distribution and brand marketing.
“I firmly believe Zhong Shi Ji will quickly become Chinese consumers’ new favourite, with its ultra-smooth taste and superior quality, created through unique processes and craftsmanship from both China and the west.”
Yanghe baijiu is the third most valuable spirits brand in the world at US$7.8bn, according to the 2018 Brand Finance Spirits 50 report.