Although we're still deep in winter, our friends in the alcohol industry are already thinking about how to make our Hanami season more tasty and wet. Usually that involves pink, peach, cherry, and strawberry flavors, plus a heavy pour of booze. Here's a round-up of the new chuhais coming soon!
- Asahi brings out Mogitate White Peach from February 6 to the end of April. The Mogitate series has been rapidly gaining market share recently -- during 2017 the company saw 132% sales YoY versus 2016. Drink some Mogitate and you'll understand why! This comes in at 9% abv, in 350ml or 500ml sizes.
- Kirin is in rapid-fire mode with three new Hyoketsu releases all happening in February. First is the Tabisuru Hyoketsu Yogurmo Sour, bringing back those memories of the yogurt you found out on Santorini... right? Well I've never been but oh well, it's a hybrid of Hyoketsu peach and yogurt flavors, coming in at 3% abv on February 6. This is the 9th entry in the Tabisuru Hyoketsu series, so it's proven quite popular. Up next is the spring-only Hyoketsu Satonishiki flavor, using the famous cherries of the same name, coming on February 20 at 4% abv. Finally in February we'll see the rebirth of the Hyoketsu Strong Shequasar at 9% abv from February 27.
- Suntory is breathing new life into the Horoyoi series, with package redesigns for the existing apple and lemon flavors, but also a refreshing new Horoyoi Cider Clear from March 13. Note that the Japanese interpretation of cider is very different from what you might expect. I'd say the flavor is closer to a weak Sprite!
- Sapporo has an entirely new line of chuhais dropping on April 3rd called Rirakusu. Interestingly their target for this lineup is women who (I'm translating here) "want to drink and relax after finishing work/housework, but don't have time." Their market research indicated that a whopping 4 in 1 women who drink RTDs such as chuhai actually prefer the strong ones. The implication is that such women prefer drinking hard, faster than they do taking it easy. Where can I meet these women?? In any case this lineup consists of Apple Vinegar, Lemon Vinegar, and Grape Vinegar flavors, all coming in at a solid 8% abv in 350ml or 500ml sizes. Sapporo has also applied for a patent for the process they use to make these -- they're strong and fruity yet don't reek of booze.
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.