Jump on board the Asian wave

July 15, 2022
By Ioni Doherty

Endeavour Group is doubling its range of Asian drinks following an increase in customer demand.

There are now more than 100 drinks imported from Asia for consumers to choose from.

“Customers are increasingly looking for more discovery, more new and interesting drinks to try. Drinks made in Asia are particularly popular among premium customers, especially Zoomers and Millennials,” explained Endeavour Group Asian Beverages Sourcing Manager Samuel Lam. 

Soju

Korean drinks are leading the trend, with Soju having enjoyed one of its  strongest year-on-year growth performances, according to sales data from  Endeavour Group, the parent company of BWS and Dan Murphy’s. 

Soju dates back to the 13th century and accounts for 97 per cent of the South Korean liquor market. It has attracted global attention after being featured in Squid Game, and ‘Glass of Soju’ from movie Parasite was nominated for Best Original Song at the 92nd Academy Awards 2020.

“Aussies are enjoying Korean drinks like Soju and Makgeolli, which coincides with the growing interest in Korean food as well as South Korean pop culture,” Mr Lam explained.

“It is the variety of flavours that really makes this much-loved beverage popular. You can discover everything from blueberry or lychee to Americano!” he added. 

Makgeolli is one of Korea’s oldest alcoholic drinks, and is a lightly sparkling drink that is made from rice, water and a starter known as nuruk. In Korea, you can order Makgeolli on tap in small ceramic bowls.

“Makgeolli shows up in many K-dramas, which is why we are seeing some great interest in this uniquely flavoured drink,” Mr Lam said. 

Japan’s national alcoholic beverages Sake and Shochu are popular in Australia, with sales of Shochu having almost doubled in BWS and Dan Murphy’s in the last 12 months. 

“Customers are turning to Shochu because it has a unique flavour and is a spirit that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Shochu also tends to have a lower ABV and calories than many other spirits like vodka,” Mr Lam explained. 

Shochu

Shochu is an ancient Japanese spirit that can be made from a range of vegetables and grains, which means there is a wide variety of flavours to be explored. Koji, a type of fungus, is used in the fermentation process that can give Shochu a unique umami flavour, often described simply as ‘savoury’. 

“When it comes to flavour, Shochu is best described as somewhere between a whisky and vodka, it has an earthy and savoury flavour. It can be enjoyed on its own or on the rocks with its mild sweetness, or you can add your favourite mixer to it,” Sam said.

Sake

Sake also remains popular in Australia, and Endeavour Group is adding another 12 sakes to its retail stores in July, which will almost double the sake range. Six of these new sakes are Junmai Daiginjo sake – the most premium expression of sake (between $40 to $150).

“Aussies are enjoying exploring more premium expressions of sake, in particular Junmai Daiginjo sake which is the highest grade of sake. Junmai Daiginjo sake is best enjoyed chilled to enhance the subtle aromas and flavours,” Sam said. 

New drinks to discover

Product: Kooksoondang Banana Flavoured Makgeolli (750ml, 4%ABV)

With fresh banana extract, this authentic Korean rice wine is gluten and sugar-free. Shake well before serving chilled in high ball glasses. Price: $10.99

Product: Kooksoondang Peach Makgeolli (750ml, 3%ABV)

This authentic makgeolli from Korea’s No.1 rice wine brand is made with low- temperature pasteurisation. Kooksoondang’s Peach Makgeolli adds fresh peach extract delivering a fragrant fruit aroma and a clean, smooth taste; it is gluten and sugar-free. Best served chilled. Price: $10.99

Product: Chateul Soorok Original (375ml, 19.3%ABV)

Korean Chateul Soorok soju is produced using a natural bamboo charcoal purification process. This popular clean and fresh brand of soju made with pure and natural spring water comes in ten different flavours. Price: $10.99

Product: Chateul Soorok Blueberry (375ml, 14%ABV)

Sweet and fruity with the distinct taste of juicy ripe blueberries, this soju mix is light and crisp with a fragrant nose and delicious clean and flavourful palate. Shake it up and drink it icy cold.

Product: Chiyonokame Souryu Junmai Daigino (sake)

This exceptional sake is brewed at low temperatures using a unique strain of yeast called the Ehime EK-7 to enhance aroma and freshness. The result is elegant sake with a fruity sweetness to the palate and a mellow aftertaste. Price: $73.99

Product: Konishi Kokuagari Junmai (sake) (pictured right)

One of the most iconic sake labels, it is brewed using classic koji and delivers a texture and aroma that is rich and dense. Namazume means one time pasteurised which contributes to the full-body of this sake and the distinct flavour of the high- quality rice. It exhibits fragrant aromas of fruit and flowers with a dash of green apple and stone fruit that follow through to the palate. Price: $23.99

Product: Echigozakura Junmai Daiginjo (sake)

Brewed with Yamada Nishiki rice polished to 50%, this delicious shu from the appellation of Niigata is representative of the Niigata Tanrei style – smooth, light and fresh. Aromas of white flowers and rose petals follow through to a palate of gentle acidity and balanced body with a clean and crisp finish. Price: $36.99

Product: Setsugen Gokujo Komeshochu (shochu)

A premium award-winning Honkaku shōchū, single-distilled from high-quality Junmai Japanese sake made from Yamagata rice milled to 75% and water from Mount Gassan. It is clean and fresh on the palate with elegant and savoury aromas of new rice. Enjoy it on the rocks or mixed with water – hot or cold. Price:  $54.99

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