The Korea Herald


Whisky imports surge 40% through August, suggesting record-breaking year

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : Sept. 29, 2023 - 14:28

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South Korea's whiskey imports surged by 40 percent year-on-year through August, signaling the potential for record-breaking annual inbound whiskey shipments this year.

Whiskey product imports totaled 22,799 tons in volume from January to August this year, marking a significant increase from 16,267 tons recorded during the same period in 2022, according to data from the Korea Customs Service.

If the current import trend continues, this year's volume is likely to surpass the 2002 record of 27,379 tons by the year-end.

The whiskey import volume had experienced a multi-year decline, dropping from 19,837 tons in 2019 to 15,923 tons in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, and further to 15,662 tons in 2021. However, it surged substantially last year, reaching 27,038 tons.

But the large leap in the volume of imports has not yet translated into a rise in the value.

Whiskey imports amounted to around $183 million in value in the first eight months, marking a 5.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year. This is small compared to the 40 percent rise in volume. This can be attributed to a significant rise in imports of low-priced products.

The rising popularity of highball cocktails among South Korean millennials and Generation Z, born between the 1980s and 2000s, where whiskey is mixed with carbonated water or tonic, has significantly fueled the importation of affordable whiskeys.