ASIA – British multinational brewer, Diageo has formed a joint venture with Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery to launch a ‘new-to-world’ premium whisky in China.

Called ‘Zhong Shi Ji’, the new whiskey brand was crafted by master blenders and distillers from Scotland and China to create what the companies refer to as “a premium taste of East and West”.

The new joint venture will trade under the name Jiangsu Yanghe Diageo Spirit Co. Ltd, co-owned by Diageo and Yanghe, China’s third largest Baijiu (popularly known as Chinese white spirit) distiller.

Zhong Shi Ji was blended through a unique process, including maturation in Chinese ceramic pots to create a unique, full-flavoured, exceptionally smooth liquid.

It was developed through a collaboration between Diageo Scotch Whisky master blender, Craig Wallace, and a China Alcoholic Drinks Association’s Chinese Baijiu master, Zhou Xinhu, providing a new whisky category to be enjoyed by consumers in China.

“Diageo has long regarded China as one of the world’s most important emerging markets for whisky,” said C.H. Chu, Managing Director, Diageo Greater China.

“With accelerated urbanisation and a fast-growing middle class, Chinese consumers are demanding both choice and quality.

“We believe that Zhong Shi Ji can play an important role in the Chinese dining occasion, launching a new era for whisky drinkers in China.

“Through our new partnership with Yanghe, we are well placed to leverage our strengths in craftsmanship, brand building and distribution.”

According to Diageo, China is the world’s largest total beverage alcohol (‘TBA’) market delivering retail sales value of US$178 billion per annum.

International spirits currently make up around 3% of the TBA market, with Scotch being the second largest international category.

The new whisky is set to tap into the meal occasion in China, with 80% of alcohol consumption taking place during meals.

“Zhong Shi Ji is a gift from both Yanghe and Diageo.

“The two companies are committed to this exciting new partnership and to leveraging our combined expertise in supply chain, distribution and brand marketing,” said Zhu Wei, Vice President of Yanghe.

“I firmly believe Zhong Shi Ji will quickly become Chinese consumers’ new favourite, with its ultra-smooth taste and superior quality, created through unique processes and craftsmanship from both China and the West.”