BWS and Dan Murphy’s have doubled their range of Asian drinks in response to increased customer demand, with more than 100 beverages on shelf.
“Customers are increasingly looking for more discovery, more new and interesting drinks to try,” explained Endeavour Group Asian Beverages Sourcing Manager Samuel Lam.
“Asian drinks are particularly popular among premium customers, especially Zoomers and Millennials.”
Korean drinks are leading the trend, with Soju having enjoyed one of its strongest year-on-year growth performances, according to sales data from Endeavour Group, the parent company of BWS and Dan Murphy’s.
Soju dates back to the 13th century and accounts for 97% of the South Korean liquor market. It has attracted global attention after being featured in Squid Game, and ‘Glass of Soju’ from movie Parasite was nominated for Best Original Song at the 92nd Academy Awards 2020.
Korean pop culture – called Hallyu, meaning Korean wave – has also become a global phenomenon over the past decade, following Psy’s “Gangnam Style” becoming the first video to break 1 billion views on YouTube in 2012.
The inaugural HallyuPopFest Sydney, celebrating the best of Korean music and lifestyle, is expected to attract thousands of K-pop fans to Parramatta from 20-28 August 2022.
“Aussies are enjoying Korean drinks like Soju and Makgeolli, which coincides with the growing interest in Korean food as well as South Korean pop culture,” Lam explained.
“It is the variety of flavours that really makes this much-loved beverage popular. You can discover everything from blueberry or lychee to Americano!” he added.
Makgeolli is one of Korea’s oldest alcoholic drinks, and is a lightly sparkling drink that is made from rice, water and a starter known as nuruk. In Korea, you can order Makgeolli on tap in small ceramic bowls.
“Makgeolli shows up in many K-dramas, which is why we are seeing some great interest in this uniquely flavoured drink,” Lam said.
Sales of shochu almost double
Japan’s national alcoholic beverages sake and shochu are popular in Australia, with sales of shochu having almost doubled in BWS and Dan Murphy’s in the last 12 months.
“Customers are turning to shochu because it has a unique flavour and is a spirit that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Shochu also tends to have a lower ABV and calories than many other spirits like vodka,” Sam explained.
Shochu is an ancient Japanese spirit that can be made from a range of vegetables and grains, which means there is a wide variety of flavours to be explored. Koji, a type of fungus, is used in the fermentation process that can give Shochu a unique umami flavour, often described simply as ‘savoury’.
“When it comes to flavour, shochu is best described as somewhere between a whisky and vodka, it has an earthy and savoury flavour. It can be enjoyed on its own or on the rocks with its mild sweetness, or you can add your favourite mixer to it,” Sam said.
Sake also remains popular in Australia, and Endeavour Group is adding another 12 sakes to its retail stores in July, which will almost double the sake range. Six of these new sakes are Junmai Daiginjo sake – the most premium expression of sake (priced between $40 to $150).
“Aussies are enjoying exploring more premium expressions of sake, in particular Junmai Daiginjo sake which is the highest grade of sake. Junmai Daiginjo sake is best enjoyed chilled to enhance the subtle aromas and flavours,” Lam said.
Sampling Japanese & Korean spirits
Drinks Digest attended a tasting of Japanese and Korean spirits at the Endeavour Drinks HQ last week and was introduced to many flavours for the first time.
Our previous impression was that sake would be a harshly flavoured spirit, but the reality was very different. Chiyonokame Souryu Junmai Daigino, for example, was an exceptionally smooth sip with hints of pear on the nose. This sake is brewed at low temperatures using a unique strain of yeast called the Ehime EK-7 to enhance aroma and freshness. The result is elegant sake with a fruity sweetness to the palate and a mellow aftertaste. It’s stocked at Dan Murphy’s and priced at $73.99.
We also enjoyed Setsugen Gokujo Komeshochu. This premium award-winning Honkaku shōchū is single-distilled from high-quality Junmai Japanese sake made from Yamagata rice milled to 75% and water from Mount Gassan. It is clean and fresh on the palate with elegant and savoury aromas of new rice. It’s available at BWS and Dan Murphy’s and priced at $54.99.
The most striking drink of the night was Kooksoondang Peach Makgeolli (750ml, 3%ABV) from Korea’s No.1 rice wine brand. Made with low-temperature pasteurisation. Kooksoondang’s Peach Makgeolli adds fresh peach extract delivering a fragrant fruit aroma and a clean, smooth taste; it is gluten and sugar-free. Best served chilled, it’s available at Dan Murphy’s and BWS and priced at $10.99.
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