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Pernod reveals its first Chinese whisky

Chivas Regal owner Pernod Ricard has released its inaugural Chinese whisky and opened its US$150 million Emeishan distillery to the public.

Pernod's Chinese whisky, The Chuan
The Chuan Pure Malt Whisky uses three types of casks, including Chinese oak

In November 2021, Pernod Ricard completed construction of The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery in Emeishan, China. Production at the site began in August that year.

Plans to open the distillery were revealed in 2019.

The French company has unveiled its first product from the distillery as part of its vision to create a ‘prestige’ malt whisky made in China.

Pernod Ricard said the year-round precipitation from the nearby Emei Mountain, alongside summer heat, has resulted in an increased intensity of flavours in whisky making, with more evaporation.

To make The Chuan Pure Malt Whisky, Chinese ingredients have been used, alongside three types of oak.

American Bourbon casks bring an ‘elegant vanilla and fruity aroma’, Spanish Sherry casks provide sweetness and Chinese single oak casks provide flavours of ‘sandalwood and mandarin peel’.

The Chinese oak, which is ‘extremely’ limited, comes from northeast China’s Changbai Mountain.

“We are proud to put China on the world map of whisky by presenting this exceptional malt whisky of The Chuan,” said Jerome Cottin-Bizonne, CEO of Pernod Ricard China.

“As a leading international spirits group, we are committed to proactively responding to the burgeoning enthusiasm and diversified demands of Chinese consumers.”

There are three variants initially available in China: The Chuan Pure Malt Whisky (CNY 888/US$125) The Chuan Pure Malt Whisky Finished in PX Cask (CNY 1,119/US$157) and The Chuan Pure Malt Whisky Bottle Your Own (CNY 1,488/US$209).

The products will be gradually rolled out in China and there are plans to launch the whisky internationally in the future.

Pernod Ricard has also opened the visitor experience at The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery, featuring an ‘immersive’ introduction, a demonstration of whisky making, tastings, a gift shop and a fine dining restaurant that offers Sichuan fusion cuisine.

“The inauguration of The Chuan Distillery is the culmination of a pioneering adventure,” said Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard.

“We have blended the natural beauty of the Emeishan landscape in China with the skill and craftsmanship of our distillers to produce a whisky to be proud of. It will shape a new and unique experience for whisky enthusiasts for many years to come.”

The site is also powered by 100% renewable electricity in line with Pernod Ricard’s 2030 Sustainability & Responsibility strategy.

In addition, the company has invested CNY 1 billion (US$140 million) to help develop the Sichuan province through local agriculture, whisky making and tourism.

Pernod Ricard saw organic sales fall by 2% in the first quarter of fiscal 2024, with an 8% decline in both China and the US.

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