Asahi released its Nikka Japanese whisky brand into Europe in 2007

Asahi released its Nikka Japanese whisky brand into Europe in 2007

Asahi Breweries saw its Nikka Japanese whisky brand break the 1m-unit barrier in Europe last year for the first time.

Nikka, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014, posted a 45% rise in European sales, while domestic sales jumped by 20%, Asahi said earlier today. The brand, which comprises around 30 expressions, arrived in Europe in 2007.

France is its top market in the continent, with sales hitting 600,000 units last year. Germany, the UK, Sweden, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland also host Nikka.

Thierry Benitah, the GM of French importer La Maison du Whisky, said: “Driven by some ... new product launches and innovative gift packaging designs with the support of our European distributor network, and a continued growth in France, I believe the brand can go beyond the 1.5m bottle mark in 2015.”

Asahi also said that it has changed sales and distribution partners in the UK. Since the start of this month, London-based Speciality Brands has taken over from Eau De View in the country.

Speciality Brands has subsequently recruited Demerara Distillers' international brand ambassador for El Dorado Rums, Stefanie Holt, as ambassador for Nikka.

In full-year results for 2014, released earlier this month, Asahi posted a near-12% lift in group profits on a 4% rise in sales.