Now there are some numbers we can cite to back up the claim that it was a great year. The Japanese Ministry of Finance has updated data from Japan Customs that show exports of gin from Japan grew from 231,000 liters in 2017 to 1.4 million liters in 2018. Year over year, that's a whopping six-fold increase! Money-wise, we went from 641 million yen to 1.98 billion yen, so essentially triple. 6x isn't a multiplier you see very often in business, so it's clear that Japanese craft gin is still a growing category.
My prediction is that Japanese gin exports will overtake shochu exports in 2019. Around 2.2 million liters of Japanese shochu went overseas in 2018, so it's not a huge stretch.
Just for comparison purposes, Japanese whisky exports for 2018 were at 6208KL, beating the previous record set in 1998 of 6002KL. The 2018 exports were worth some 14 billion yen.
If you're interested in learning more about the variety of Japanese craft gins currently available, check out the Japanese Craft Gin Roundup from last year!