The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan sees record exports of liquor amid increased demand

- By Toru Asami Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Exports of Japanese alcoholic beverages are booming, setting a new record for total value for a 10th consecutiv­e years and topping ¥100 billion for the rst time in 2021. Whiskey and sake in particular each increased 70% from the previous year, thanks to growing demand from foreigners who could not travel to Japan due to the pandemic.

Entering a building that was converted from a rice warehouse, you can smell the sweet aroma unique to unblended malt whiskey.

Nagahama Roman Beer Co. in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, has been producing local beer for many years, but in 2016, it entered the whiskey-producing business as well.

At a distillery located inside the building, whiskey made from malted barley is packed in casks and le to mature for a number of years. In 2018, the company launched a product blended with overseas whiskey that won an award for the best Japanese blended malt at a product review held in the U.K. in February 2020.

Orders from overseas have increased and the product is now sold in about 30 countries, mainly in Asia and Europe.

“We’re small in scale, but we want to make whiskey that people around the world will know about,” said a 50-yearold executive in charge of production.


According to the National Tax Agency, the export value of whiskey was about ¥4 billion in 2013, and it has been increasing year by year, reaching about ¥19.4 billion in 2019. Growth accelerate­d further a er the pandemic, increasing to approximat­ely ¥27.1 billion in 2020 and ¥46.1 billion in 2021.

“Orders from overseas are two to three times the level before the spread of the novel coronaviru­s,” said Yuki Okada, the president of Jem Industries

Corp., an exporter of whiskey and other products in Osaka City.

A cionados of whisky, especially in China, who can’t visit Japan due to the pandemic are believed to be buying well-known brands such as Suntory Holdings Ltd.’s Yamazaki and Hibiki.

ese brands are in short supply even in Japan and are becoming increasing­ly

di cult to obtain.

Amid this situation, cra whiskey produced by small distilleri­es such as Nagahama Roman Beer is gradually gaining popularity. “e strength of cra whiskey is that it’s made with an earnest approach to brewing and no corners are cut,” said Okada, 38. He also said Japanese whiskey lovers are increasing in France and other European countries.


Japanese sake is also gaining popularity, partly due to the registrati­on of washoku, or Japanese traditiona­l dietary culture, as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2013. Last year, sake exports increased to approximat­ely ¥40.1 billion, up ¥16 billion from the previous year.

Asahi Shuzo Co., the maker of famous sake brand Dassai in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, achieved overseas sales of about ¥6.8 billion in the scal year ending September 2021. is was the rst time that overseas sales surpassed the company’s domestic take, which was approximat­ely ¥6.5 billion in the same period.

“Our e orts from around 2005 to develop overseas markets through sales promotions by top company sta have born fruit,” said CEO Kazuhiro Sakurai, 45.

In scal 2021, the government also li ed a ban on new entrants into the sake industry just for those making sake for export. Six businesses have already received licenses, including Konohanano Brewery in Asakusa, Tokyo, which has begun exporting sake to the United States, China and other countries.

e brewery was originally involved in the production of doburoku un ltered, unre ned sake. A representa­tive said, “We hope to expand our sales channels through synergies with sake.” (Oct. 10)

 ?? The Yomiuri Shimbun ?? An executive of Nagahama Roman Beer checks whiskey at the company’s distillery in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, on Oct. 1.
The Yomiuri Shimbun An executive of Nagahama Roman Beer checks whiskey at the company’s distillery in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, on Oct. 1.

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