Kirin’s whisk(e)y sales are exploding

In a press release, Kirin Beer has revealed today that the 1H 2022 sales volume of “domestic whisky” has increased 40% YoY.

The company says that 140% YoY figure outpaces the broader market for Japan’s domestic whisky, and that Riku is pulling a lot of weight, being up 216% versus 2021. For what it’s worth, while Riku isn’t a bonafide JSLMA-compliant Japanese whisky, I found it offered pretty good cost performance if you’re into more Bourbon-ish whiskies (disclaimer: Kirin revamped the blend for Riku in April 2022, and I am yet to try the new version).

The company expects its whisky division to be a major contributor to its bottom line over the next decade. They’ve invested a total of 8 billion yen into the Fuji Gotemba Distillery, which in 2021 saw a 20% increase in aging capacity. They’ve also introduced 4 new washbacks and two sets of pot stills, enabling them to make a lot more.

Their flagship brands going forward will be Riku and Fuji Single Grain/Single Blended. Kirin Beer may have historically played second fiddle compared to heavyweights Suntory and Nikka, but it’s evident they aren’t sitting around.

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