Wealth in Asia

Whisky, wine and how big brands have tried to win over Asia

Gerard Ward | Special to CNBC
Toshifumi Kitamura | AFP | Getty Images

For any brand, diving into a new market can be tricky. For alcohol brands from outside Asia, trying to entice customers who aren't accustomed to the taste of some types of drink, it can be an even more difficult proposition.

Thus, many brands have made an especially big effort to get a seat at the Asian bar. Here are just some of the ambitious attempts made by foreign drinks makers to win Asia's taste buds.

—By Gerard Ward | Special to CNBC
Posted 08 December 2015

Bacardi Tang – China

Bacardi Limited

Branching off from its signature rum, Bacardi was inspired to make the world's first Chinese green tea-distilled liquor – distilled using only tea leaves, with only the addition of spring water from Cognac, France.

Launched in March 2015, a small batch of 2,000 bottles were made to test the market, Bacardi is hoping to grab the attention of drinkers in China first to see if the concept catches on.

Johnnie Walker Eastern Legends Collection – China

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The blended whisky-maker is no stranger to special editions, with cities such as Chengdu, Mumbai and Shanghai getting their own collectors' editions. A Zodiac-designed bottle is launched every Chinese New Year.

In January 2014 the Eastern Legends Collection was launched, with all three sets of bottles containing Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottles – a Zodiac set of all 12 animals, a set representing three deities Fu, Lu and Shou, as well as a five-bottle set representing the Five Gods of Wealth: Wisdom, Vision, Integrity, Fortune and Luck.

Jazz Appreciation with The Macallan – Hong Kong

To deliver a message of sophistication, in September, Scottish Speyside whisky distiller The Macallan began throwing monthly jazz appreciation events in Hong Kong's Central district, with a whisky "brand ambassador" on board to run through the single malts while local jazz artists played to a room of socialites.

Macallan made the Guinness World Records last year when its six-litre Macallan M – in a crystal decanter made by Lalique – was auctioned off for HKD$4.9 million. With the last jazz and whisky event done for 2015, HK residents now must wait to see if the series continues next year.

Penfolds wine collection launch – China

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In 2015 Penfolds presented its annual wine collection outside of Australia for the first time. Shanghai was chosen for the launch of the feted winery's new collection, from a 2011 Grange to a 2013 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon.

China is the world's biggest consumer of red wine, according to research firm International Wine & Spirit Research, and the South Australian winery wanted to show its appreciation for the voracious Chinese market.

The Peak Wine Club – Singapore

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In January Singaporean luxury lifestyle magazine The Peak teamed up with wine subscription service The French Cellar to give readers two limited-edition bottles of wine a month, with tasting notes and pairing suggestions.

Sommelier Nicolas Rebut's 20 years of experience – including the role of former Chef Sommelier for 3-star Michelin restaurants Le Meurice in Paris and Monaco's Louis XV – lends an international touch to the monthly service, which educate the audience on how to appreciate limited-edition wines.

Johnnie Walker House – Seoul

The third of its kind (the others are in Beijing and Shanghai), this six-floor former embassy opened in September 2013 as a walk-in experience designed to celebrate the brand, complete with a rooftop bar, VIP lounge and school for up-and-coming bartenders.

The Blending Suite is the only place in Korea where select customers can create their own Signature Blend with the help of a master blender.

Buying French vineyards – China

Vineyards by the road of Saint Laurent d'Oingt during sunrise, Beaujolais, France.
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For China's wealthy, diversifying one's investment portfolio can include snapping up a vineyard or two in Bordeaux.

To help rich buyers do just that, in June Hong Kong-based online luxury goods store Luxify entered a partnership with high-end realtor Landscope Christie's to offer a consultancy service for Chinese who're keen to buy foreign vineyards.

The Glover 22 Year Old – Japan

Named after the "Scottish Samurai" Thomas Blake Glover, Adelphi Distillery commissioned The Glover 22 Year Old, which is a blended malt that brings rare Scottish and Japanese whiskies together for the first time.

Only 390 bottles were produced, using a mixture of ex-sherry casks from Hanya Distillery and Longmorn Distillery.

SG50 bottles – Singapore

Singapore's 50th year of independence was a big cause for celebration in the island city, and brands did not hold back in offering anything with the number 50 in it. It also gave some whisky brands, including Glenfiddich and Dalmore, an opportunity to break out their 50-year-olds.

Chivas Regal – a blended whisky that's favoured in Singapore served mixed with green tea – created 255 bottles of its limited edition Royal Salute 50 Year Old for Singapore's birthday.

Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish – Japan

This limited edition Bowmore single malt scotch launched in September. Maturing in old bourbon and sherry casks, the final three years are spent in mizunara oak – a Japanese tree with hints of coconut and incense that can take up to 300 years to mature.

This sets the drink apart from most whiskeys, which are usually aged in bourbon or sherry casks from Scotland or the U.S.