Low-alcohol tipple will keep you in good spirits

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Low-alcohol tipple will keep you in good spirits

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British Ambassador Charles Hay, center left, and Cho Kil-soo, CEO of Diageo Korea, hold up their glasses filled with the company’s latest spirit drink “W Rare by Windsor” and pose with staff on Wednesday. [NEWSIS]

Diageo Korea has stepped up its marketing of low-alcohol drinks in Korea to meet growing demand.

The whisky importer introduced its new “W Rare by Windsor” beverage at the British Embassy in Seoul on Wednesday. The drink has a 35 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) content. Scotch whisky has a typical ABV of more than 40 percent.

The company previously introduced “W Ice by Windsor,” with 35 percent ABV, in Busan and South Gyeongsang in March and in Jeju in July.

Due to the changing appetite of consumers favoring lighter alcoholic drinks - including soju, beer and other drinks - whisky distillers have also been releasing low-alcohol products. Lotte Liquor’s “Jupiter Mild Blue”(35 percent) and Pernod Richard Korea’s “Eclat by Imperial” (31 percent), which target female consumers, reflect the trend.

The newest “W Rare” aims to attract traditional whisky drinkers with its smooth flavor that keeps the uniqueness of whisky while lowering the alcohol content.

Although W Rare and other low-alcohol drinks are marketed as whisky in Korea, they are considered spirits by international standards, as their ABV is below 40 percent.

The drink is named after the rare liquid which comes from one out of 200 distilled barrels chosen by a master blender. Described as a blend of Scotch whisky with flavors and natural red date essence, it includes liquid distilled at the Royal Lochnagar distillery in Ballater, Scotland, near the Queen’s highland residence in Balmoral.

The drink will be priced at 38,170 won ($33.70) including tax for a 450-milliliter (1-pint) bottle.

“The biggest aim of our company is to become a cultural evangelist that can effectively ‘blend in’ the traditional heritage of Scotland and domestic consumer needs,” said Cho Kil-soo, CEO of the U.K.-based Diageo Korea. “And ‘W Rare’ is the product to play the role.”

“Many Koreans enjoying the taste of British heritage and the taste of British products, such as ‘W Rare’ … demonstrates the growing fondness and attachment to British culture here in Korea,” British Ambassador Charles Hay said.

Seoul is considered the biggest market for whisky in Korea, but the low-alcohol spirits were introduced in the southern regions, as there is a higher demand for such drinks in those areas. Sales of low-alcohol spirits are a sign of growing demand for less potent drinks by Seoulites.

Windsor is a leading whisky brand in the domestic market and has managed to retain its No. 1 position from 2006 until now.

As for the super-premium segment, which accounts for 45.6 percent of the domestic whisky market, the company has been No. 1 since 2000, according to the company.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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