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November 22, 2021

Diageo playing catch-up in China single malt whisky – Pernod Ricard

Both companies are building distilleries in southern China, but Pernod believes it has the advantage.

By Andy Morton

The head of Pernod Ricard’s Asia business has hailed a head start over Diageo in building a Chinese single malt distillery, saying the group is a “pioneer” in the burgeoning category.

Last week, Pernod officially opened The Chuan distillery in south-west China. The move puts the company about two years ahead of Diageo, which broke ground on a similar facility last month.

Both distilleries will target Chinese premium spirits consumers with a domestic malt whisky brand.

Speaking to Just Drinks last week, Pernod’s Asia CEO, Philippe Guettat, said the advantage will stand the company in good stead. “We are the pioneer,” Guettat explained. “We’re the market leader in China on these types of initiatives and [Diageo’s announcement] totally validates the strategy that we started five years ago.”

The CEO welcomed Diageo’s “friendly competition”, adding that he expects other international distillers to enter the Chinese single malt category.

“This is the beginning of a long list of strong players coming in,” Guettat continued. “The ability to develop spirits in China is immense, and I’m sure we’ve started a real trend that will continue for many years.”

Pernod said the US$150m distillery will be “a cultural icon for Sichuan and China”. Production commenced in August.

To read the full interview with Guettat, click here.

Is Chinese whisky set to become the next major regional style? – Click here for a Just Drinks comment

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