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Whiskey sales plunge for 10th consecutive year

South Korea’s whiskey sales have been on a downward turn for the past decade amid sluggish domestic consumption, industry data showed Sunday.

According to industry data, the domestic sales of the spirit recorded some 1.49 million boxes, or 26 million bottles of 500 ml whiskey, last year, about 6.2 percent decrease from some 1.59 million boxes sold in 2017. 

After reaching a peak in 2008 when 2.84 million boxes were sold, the local whiskey market has been suffering from slowing demand for heavy liquor. 

Among four major liquor companies here, Diageo Korea sold the most with 533,912 boxes. It was followed by Golden Blue (405,778 boxes), Pernod Ricard (300,179 boxes) and Lotte Liquor (132,540 boxes). 

Except Golden Blue, all three companies saw decreased on-year sales. 

As part of alternative plans, foreign liquor companies are expanding their beer lineups. 

Diageo Korea has been strengthening its imported beer lineup, targeting the fast-growing beer market here. 

Besides its stout beer brand Guinness, the company plans to actively promote Hop House 13 lager, which will hit the Korean market this month.

(Diageo Korea)
(Diageo Korea)

According to market data, imported beers recorded 216 million won ($192,000) in sales from January to September in 2017, an increase of about 50 percent on-year. 

But despite the rising popularity of beer, liquor companies are not giving up on South Korea’s whiskey market. 

Instead, companies are turning to low alcohol spirits and small portion bottles. 

(Pernod Ricard Korea)
(Pernod Ricard Korea)

Pernod Ricard Korea has been promoting its Scotch whisky brand Imperial after launching new low-alcohol spirit drink Smooth 12 in November. 

“The low-ABV spirit drink market is gaining huge popularity among young consumers. We gained high competitiveness and market share by achieving over 11 percent of market share in the low-ABV market in 11 months,” said a Pernod Ricard Korea official. 

By Kim Da-sol (