Chuhai Watch: Citrusy winter, cherry & strawberry, green apricot

Although Dec 25-29 is a regular workweek here in Japan, things are definitely winding down for the year. Barring any major announcements I expect this Chuhai Watch to be my last post of 2017. It’s been an amazing year for the Japanese alcohol industry and I’m looking forward to 2018 already!

  • Kirin has announced two new additions to their Honshibori series: the seasonal Honshibori Chuhai Shikikan (Calamondin) and already permanent Honshibori Chuhai Pink Grapefruit now available in a 500ml size. The Shikikan is a hybrid between a citrus and a kumquat, and in Okinawan cooking it sometimes stands in for the shequasar. They are 6% and 5% abv respectively, with both expected on January 30th.
  • Speaking of Kirin they’ve also announced that 2017 has been the best year ever for their canned chuhais. After launching the first Hyoketsu in 2001, they hit a peak of 36.8 million cases in 2006. Sales suddenly dropped the following year but they’ve been recovering over the past 7 years — and in 2017 sales have already surpassed that 2006 peak. Particularly Kirin’s Tabisuru Hyoketsu series has been doing very well since its introduction this year.
  • Suntory will be releasing both the -196°C Sakura Cherry and -196°C Spring Strawberry flavors on February 13. These are both obviously popular flavors to get everyone in the mood for Hanami in the Spring. Both at 4% abv.
  • Also from Suntory is the -196°C Strong Zero Kiwi coming again on February 27. It’s 9% abv. This must have done well when it was released back in June, since it hasn’t even been a year!
  • Horoyoi Orange Tea Sour drops on February 20 from Suntory. This one combines the sweet and sour taste of an orange with the floral notes of black tea at 3% abv. It’s also a season-limited edition.
  • Finally from Asahi is the Mogitate Blue Apricot flavor, another season-limited one available only from January 16 to the end of March. It contains 1.1% real fruit juice and will be at 9% abv in 350ml or 500ml sizes.

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