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US whiskey sees high demand in Asia

The co-CEO of third-party producer Next Century Spirits has noticed high demand for American whiskey in Asia, as interest wanes in the US.

US whiskey
Smaller US whiskey distilleries getting little “traction” in the States are seeing high demand in Asia

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Tequila has surpassed American whiskey in value terms to become the second most valuable spirit category in the US.

Speaking exclusively to The Spirits Business, Anthony Moniello, co-chief executive officer of third-party producer Next Century Spirits, shed light on the waning interest for US whiskey and Bourbon in its home country, but a higher demand in Asia.

“I was on the phone with China late last night, and Japan early this morning – all for American whiskey. So, I can say first hand, yes [we are seeing global demand for American whiskey].

“Even small distilleries here in the US that maybe can’t get traction here, I get a lot of calls [from them] that say, ‘Help me in the US because I’m selling 10,000 cases in Asia. But I can’t sell anything here and my distilleries in upstate New York,” Moniello said.

Beam Suntory’s North America president Greg Hughes recently said that “innovation, renovation and premiumisation” are key trends for American whiskey in the year ahead, and the opportunity for the category to expand globally.

Moniello continued: “America is defined by a few things – football, cowboys… and we’re considered the people who make great whiskey. People are willing to pay a premium for it.

“That’s what’s happening globally. It’s empowering. I would say the promiscuous Bourbon consumer is what drove the whiskey category in the US over the past 15 years. That’s now global – a global promiscuous consumer.”

China’s demand for high ABV

In October, IWSR’s Status Spirits Strategic Study 2022 revealed that China remains a key market for high-end international spirits, and baijiu ‘retains’ 84% value share of the status spirits market, but consumption is ‘almost completely’ confined to China.

Moniello echoed these findings, and how this is working its way into the whiskey category.

“Right now, in China, there’s a particularly high demand for high-proof alcohol,” he said.

“And that is a place where a lot of high-proof alcohol wins the day. I mean, it’s shochus and rice wines and stuff like that. And we get calls about 100 proof, 120 proof whiskeys now. That’s particularly surprising.”

Next Century Spirits launched American single malt whiskey Bear Fight whiskey in May 2022, and teamed up with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane in October 2022 when he acquired an equity stake in the brand.

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