Japanese whisky is enjoying a surge in popularity in more countries than just Japan, the French for example are mad for it. In 2012, Nikka alone sold around 300.000 bottles of whisky in France, by 2014, of the roughly one million bottles of Japanese whisky sold in Europe, 600.000 went to France.

The French love trying out new things, new whisky with new spices and new flavor, and Japanese whisky delivers. They are also fascinated with Japanese culture, Manga and Anime, green tea, Sushi, Geisha and Samurai are all popular in the country. And Japanese whisky producers have worked hard on marketing themselves there. Suntory for example has teamed up with famous chefs and bartenders in Paris luxury hotels and high-end restaurants. Examples include chef Daniel Rose and the barman of the Plaza Athenee hotel Thierry Fernandez. French chefs have been quite ingenious in their use of whisky, a chef at Sakura France in Paris for example made bentos – Japanese dishes served in boxes with dishes cooked with Nikka whiskeys.

Japanese whisky is considered a high end product in France, a popular way to consume it is with “iceball,”, a huge ball of ice which barely slips into the glass. Those who have tried out Japanese whisky at bars in Tokyo know this is very common over there, and the French seem to like it. The most popular brand is Nikka from the Barrel, a small simple flask which is, well, from the barrel.

French importers are also certain that the demand can only go up, Thierry Benitah, general manager at the importer and distributor La Maison du Whisky, which imports and distributer said: “Nikka never fails to surprise us with its incredible ascent. Driven by some really exciting new product launches and innovative gift packaging designs with the support of our European distributor network, and a continued growth in France, I believe the brand can go beyond the 1.5 million bottle mark.”

The French are well known for being quite demanding when it comes to food and drinks, if you needed a prove that Japanese whisky is world class, here you have it.

Henry Baldvin