The premium blended whisky contains desalinated filtered ocean water, which the company claims is a world-first.
It will be released in Singapore first, with launches in other South East Asian markets from September onwards. It will be available in upscale supermarkets and liquor stores.
According to Burak Aslan, APAC sales manager at Yoshino Spirits, the company will choose to enter premium Asian markets where consumers were seeking new brand experiences and eager to experiment with taste.
“We know that Singapore is in a strategic position for gastronomy and trade in Asia that’s why we decided to first launch Umiki there.
“The reason we chose Asian markets is because we believe there is untapped market potential for our company, apart from the geographical proximity to Japan that helps quicker market access.”
The drink is a blended whisky aged in pine barrels known as Matsu, and diluted with desalinated filtered ocean water via the reverse osmosis technique.
According to the company, the water is derived from the Pacific Ocean 200 meters deep where no sunlight is able to penetrate. It attributed the low mineral ocean water to the smooth mouthfeel offered in the whisky.
Aslan said it was this unique production process that gave the 46% ABV whisky a hint of sweet floral and seaweed notes, and a smooth freshness and finish.
The malt is obtained in Japan, and the grain sourced overseas.
According to Aslan, the development of Umiki Whisky was to create an awareness of sustainability, inspired by Japan’s respect for nature and the ocean.
“We decided to make a whisky where we could share the importance of living in harmony with nature. As we are currently facing severe challenges due to the excessive use of our beautiful world’s limited resources, the launch of Umiki Whisky could be seen as an effort to raise awareness for a sustainable world.”
COVID-19 and sales
Aslan said the company had seen its sales in the first three months drop significantly, in the on-trade channels such as duty-free retailers especially with the decline in travellers.
However, on the bright side, Aslan told us sales on its e-commerce and off-trade platforms have increased.
He thinks that e-commerce will rise during this time, and perhaps beyond the crisis: “Consumers are seeking more comfort brands, brands that have already been in the market for a while. Among the different sales channels, e-commerce is the rising star that has seen a dramatic surge in volumes.”
The future of whisky
Aslan described two trends in Asia’s whisky consumption:: “In the next few years, we would see two contradictory trends where a group of consumers would prefer less sophistication and stick to already established brands and seek (lower priced) deals.”
“The second trend we would see is another group of consumers who would drink less in quantity, yet they are eager to trade up for more healthier options. Whichever trend would prevail, one thing definite is that, aperitif and cocktail moments would be curbed and such drinking occasions would be in lesser frequency,” Aslan added.
Besides whisky, Aslan told us the company was looking at Japanese sake as potential growth: “We believe there is still an important untouched opportunity in multiple markets around the world to exploit.”