StateWays - January/February 2017

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | January/February 2017 32 IMPORTED WHISKY | CATEGORY UPDATE "Since buying the brand, we've invested heavily in repackaging, and in the new distillery being built, so that we own our own future," Nash adds. EASTERN RISINGS Even Japanese whisky has benefi ted from the boom, al- though much education will be needed if the category is to become more than a cultish on-premise fad. For Phillips, who oversees Yamazaki and Hakushu Single Malt, Hibiki blended and the recently released Suntory Toki, creating a lasting impression is the goal. Suntory isn't alone in the market, as both small com- panies and larger ones like Nikka are focusing on the U.S. Earlier this year, the Nikka Whisky Distilling Com- pany and U.S. importer Anchor Distilling Company in- troduced two new expressions: Yoichi Single Malt and Miyagikyo Single Malt, both non-age statement whis- kies. Nikka now sends single malt, blended malt and grain whiskies to the U.S. "Our higher-end and limited release Japanese whis- kies do get scooped up at retail very quickly, and the sin- gle malts and Hibiki are mostly a whiskey connoisseur's product. With the launch of Toki, we're defi nitely trying to expand the market, to tell the market that Japanese whiskey is a segment not just for connoisseurs," Phillips says. Toki is receiving much more of a retail push, meant to be enjoyed in highballs and refreshing cocktails rather than sipped and savored, she says - an everyday, rather than a "special occasion," whisky. "We're making our own category and spend a lot of time and effort on education. From a retail perspective, we aim to get its own section and we are targeting more sophisticated whiskey stores, where we can ed- ucate the staff that it's not Scotch that comes from Japan," she says. Nash of William Grant neatly sums up the opportu- nities and challenges facing international whisky makers and retailers these days. "What you'll fi nd is there's a tremendous amount of choice out there, with people coming in to one type of whiskey and drinking around. It's not as clear cut as fi nding one expression and moving up. The more we can give consumers broader expressions of taste, price point and interesting elements, the more they will come to it. Whiskey drinkers have a huge variety in front of them and it's only getting larger - our job is to make sure we are coming up with expressions that make sense to consumers." • JACK ROBERTIELLO is the former editor of Cheers magazine and writes about beer, wine, spirits and all things liquid for numerous publications. More of his work can be found at "WHAT YOU'LL FIND IS THERE'S A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF CHOICE OUT THERE, WITH PEOPLE COMING IN TO ONE TYPE OF WHISKEY AND DRINKING AROUND. IT'S NOT AS CLEAR CUT AS FINDING ONE EXPRESSION AND MOVING UP." —Andrew Nash, VP of Whiskies for William Grant and Sons

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