Record increases in whisky imports into South Korea in Q1

Whisky imports into South Korea shot up by almost 80% in Q1 of 2023. 

The surge in imports to the country is said to be due to millennials discovering a love for the alcoholic beverage during the pandemic.

Data released by the Korea Customs Service shows how much whisky has been imported into the country. Measured in tons of whisky imported Q1 of 2023 has seen a 78.2% increase year on year. 

In fact, this is the highest Q1 value since records began in the year 2000.

korean street

How has the demand for whisky grown in South Korea?

South Korea, like many other countries, implemented strict social distancing restrictions during the COVID pandemic. This led to many citizens spending more time at home. In particular, young people found a taste for whisky, and this has continued beyond the easing of restrictions. 

The data from the Korea Customs Service shows the growing demand for imported whisky:

  • Q1 2022: 4,738 tons
  • Q2 2022: 6,451 tons
  • Q3 2022: 7,224 tons
  • Q4 2022: 8,625 tons
  • Q1 2023: 8,443 tons

If this trend continues South Korea could become one of the largest importers of whisky in Asia and a lucrative market for producers. 

However, it should be noted that more low and medium-priced whisky is being imported, rather than high end whiskies. 

The price per ton dropped throughout the year. Starting in the first two quarters of 2022 the price per ton was around $11,000, by the first quarter of 2023 this had dropped to around $7,700 per ton.

The market value still saw growth of 24% year on year ($64.77 million Q1 2023), but the stark difference could show where the Korean market is currently. 

It should be noted that the Korean market is still in its infancy. The taste for whisky is likely to develop in the coming years as whisky drinkers become more adventurous to try new and exciting varieties. 

Scotch whisky exports worldwide

We noted back in February that worldwide exports of scotch whisky have exceeded £6bn from Scotland. The top 10 countries for both value and volume were featured in the article, yet South Korea did not feature on either list. 

Could South Korea become the next big destination for whisky exports from Scotland? 

At this point, it is unlikely. The 10th position on the ranking is filled by Spain for value at £173 million, so South Korea has a long way to go before making an appearance. 

However, with 52 million residents it has the potential to grow into an international whisky powerhouse. Especially considering that Asian countries occupy five of the top 10 most valuable scotch whisky exporters in the world.

If you want to become part of the growing global trend of love of whisky, then you can!

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