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Issue 98 - Native Palates

Whisky Magazine Issue 98
September 2011


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Native Palates

While the blended whisky market remains relatively static in the UK, new and emerging markets around the globe have begun to highlight some interesting ways to enjoy blends. Neil Ridley reports.

Whiskey and green tea, At the KTV, nearly killed me”. Perhaps not one of their best lyrical couplets, but this line, recently penned by the popular UK band, Supergrass, conveniently highlights an important phenomenon emerging on the other side of the world. The concept of pairing blended whisky with something as outlandish as green tea is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to enjoy blended whisky in many of China's (and now South Korea's) most happening bars. To the western palate, this idea perhaps seems vaguely absurd, but stop for a second and consider how the equally bizarre proposition of mixing tonic water, lemonade, Coke or even ginger ale with a whisky may seem to the average Chinese/Korean drinker, and you have an interesting juxtaposition. The way we have enjoyed our whisky in the more mature markets of Europe is no longer the be-all-and-end-all. As a result, brands are starting to explore as many new ways as possible to get greater traction in these markets.

“Clearly the most radical change to consumer habits in recent years has been the Highball revolution in Japan,” explains Andy Hogan, international sales manager for the Isle Of Arran distillery. One of the most traditional ways to enjoy (predominantly) Japanese whisky since the 1950s, the Highball; a healthy slug of a light and fruity blended whisky such as Hibiki, Torys or the omni-present domestic Kakubin blend, and soda proved to be a perfect accompaniment to Japanese cuisine, and in recent ye...

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