This year’s Diageo Whisky Summit took place in Guangzhou where visitors learned about the latest trends driving scotch culture in China
More than 500 whisky industry experts, scotch fans and business partners united at Diageo’s two-day Whisky Summit this weekend (17-18 November) in Guangzhou, China.
They gathered to discuss and share whisky knowledge, trends and opportunities in a series of panels, workshops and tasting masterclasses.
According to Diageo, China is the single largest alcohol market in the world with a growing luxury consumer base. It says there is a large penetration opportunity for international spirits, particularly scotch whisky.
It claims that, by 2022, 75% of the nation’s urban population will be classified as middle class; a trend which is also helping to grow the demand for more premium products such as Johnnie Walker.
Testament to the growing demand for scotch amongst Chinese consumers, scotch whisky exports to China grew by 45% to £27m in the first half of 2017 according to the Scotch Whisky Association.
The Diageo Whisky Summit is thought to have been one of the most exciting and engaging immersive scotch whisky experiences ever hosted in China.
For the first time, Diageo showcased all the whiskies from its 27 distilleries in operation in Scotland. Visitors were visually brought to Scotland through virtual tours of some of Diageo’s most iconic distilleries, journeys through the four scotch whisky regions and masterclasses given by some of the world’s most renowned whisky experts such as Jim Beveridge, Johnnie Walker Master Blender; Georgie Crawford, Lagavulin Distillery Manager, and acclaimed whisky writers Charles MacLean and Dave Broom. The summit was also attended by famous Chinese scotch whisky gurus Steven Lin and Sam Lu.
Prior to the event, Sam Fischer, Diageo’s President Greater China and Asia, said: “I am honoured to open the Diageo China Whisky Summit for the second year running. Diageo is the global leader in scotch whisky and our ambition is to make scotch the number one international spirit category in China.
“Our Chinese scotch business is on a strong growth trajectory. We are beating the competition, having recently extended our leadership in the super deluxe scotch segment, and we are accelerating performance in the single malts category with Singleton.
“We are also the fastest growing player in the premium segment and are driving share and attracting new consumers with innovations like Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch and Haig Club Clubman. Scotch has an exciting future in China and I am confident Diageo is well placed to continue to drive the growth of the category and establish its leadership.”
Mark Edwards, General Manager, Diageo China, said: “Chinese consumers have a thirst for knowledge on scotch whisky and a desire to refine their appreciation of its heritage, provenance and craft credentials.
“The Diageo China Whisky Summit is one of the major initiatives we have kicked off to drive scotch category awareness and excitement about Diageo’s scotch portfolio. We put a strong focus on education to inspire and recruit new consumers.
“We have also supported the opening of whisky boutiques in Xiamen and Guangzhou, setting up mentoring events and investing behind ‘liquid on lips’ activities in the growing number of malt bars that are opening up in the country. Scotch is vibrant in China and Diageo is well positioned to ride on the trend with our unrivalled selection of brands.”
Sarah Dickson, Scotch Whisky Association Global Affairs Director, said: “Scotch whisky is a globally renowned product and I am proud to be part of this Diageo summit that brings together so many industry experts and enthusiasts to celebrate Scotland’s national drink.
“Some £4 billion of scotch is shipped across the world each year, making it the UK’s biggest food and drink export, and a vast contributor to the country’s economy. In the first six months of this year, demand for scotch in China increased as the economy grew, with direct exports up 45% to £27 million.
“Tourism is another important part of the scotch whisky industry and last year 1.7m visits were made to distilleries in Scotland, with many coming from China. We are confident China’s relationship with scotch will continue to strengthen in the years to come.”