Major Japanese alcoholic beverage companies are preparing to export gin.
Over the past few years, Japanese whisky has been gaining popularity overseas and its export has been increasing. The companies are now aiming to enter the market for gin, which has also seen growing consumption worldwide. All eyes will be on the extent to which Japanese gin will be accepted by the rest of the world.
Gin is a type of distilled liquor called a spirit that uses malt, corn or other grains as raw materials. In Japan, the liquor is perhaps best known as an ingredient in cocktails such as gin and tonic.
Asahi Breweries will launch its new gin brand Coffey Gin, manufactured by its affiliate Nikka Whisky Distilling Co. in Europe and the United States in September. The new brand is made with distillation techniques capable of retaining the desirable tastes and aromas of the raw ingredients.
For Asahi Breweries, it is the first time to sell Japanese gin abroad.
"The demand for spirits is growing across the world, creating a new boom," Taketoshi Kishimoto, the president of Nikka Whisky Distilling, said at a press conference held in May.
Suntory Spirits also jointly developed a new gin product, called ROKU, with Suntory group's major U.S. spirit maker Beam Suntory. The new product features ingredients unique to Japan such as cherry blossom, yuzu citrus and sansho Japanese pepper.
It will become available in Europe and the United States, possibly before the end of the year.
Overseas, craft gins produced on a small scale and featuring unique flavours are growing in popularity.
According to an estimate by Suntory, the consumption of high-priced gins that cost $20 (about 2,200 yen) or more per bottle bottle doubled over six years from 2010 on a global basis.