Whisky imports up 62% in Korea, projected to be popular next year and beyond

EW&W Whisky

The popularity of whisky in Korea is on the rise. An article recently written in The Korea Economic Daily compares the number of imports from January to October this year to last, and we can see how much it’s increased- at around 62%.

According to the trade statistics of the Korea Customs Service at the start of this month, the value of imports of whiskys such as Scotch, Bourbon, and Rye from January to October this year was $218.0 million, up 61.8% from $134.8 million during last year’s same period.

It is estimated that the peak for Scotch imports to Korea in 2007 with $270.3 million, though it has been on a steep downward slide from then to $132.5 million in 2019. However, exports are on the rise again and climbed back 32.4% to $175.3 million last year.

An increase of 75.5% was seen in imports over the past 10 months, with a total volume of 21,251 tons. This is compared to 12,107 tons in the same period last year.

Due to quarantine measures put in place such as social distancing after the COVID-19 pandemic, the culture of drinking at home has become common practice, and the number of consumers who enjoy whisky, especially those in their 20s and 30s, has been on the rise. Market observers commented that these factors were what accounted for the steep increase in the whisky market.

In addition, “highball,” a cocktail concocted by mixing soda water with whisky, became highly popular and was a factor in increasing the market.

An official of Diageo Korea said, “[Whisky] is gaining popularity as it is consumed in various ways such as neat, on-the-rock, and highball.”

Franz Hotton, CEO of Pernod Ricard Korea, also cited a new drinking culture, an influx of young drinkers, and the rise in consumer information as the driving forces for market growth.

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