The Teeling Whiskey Company has been hard at work bringing the good news Irish Whiskey to a global audience, and have recently established a presence in key Asian markets, with a full time member of staff now based in Hong Kong. To celebrate the Chinese New Year our “Guy” on the ground, Guy Horan, gives us an insight into the Chinese (Lunar) New Year, the Chinese whiskey market, and how Teeling Whiskey will be filling glasses in China during this festive period.
Spring Festival (春节/春節) is the most important date in the Chinese calendar. Occurring annually between January and February, it marks the turning of the lunar calendar. Celebrated across Asia as Lunar New Year and known in Ireland as Chinese New Year, this year it falls on February 16th.
It is a time when people return to their family homes, to feast on food and drink with family and friends. With a population of 1.3 billion, China has the largest group of people who celebrate this holiday and as a result Spring Festival is the largest human migration in the world. All week train stations and airports across China have been jam packed as revelers return to their hometowns to ring in the year of the Dog.
China is a rapidly developing whiskey market. Until recently a couple of brands dominated, and these were often served mixed with a generous portion of chilled green tea. Today however cities are littered with whiskey bars with a wide selection of world whiskeys and exceptional cocktail bars seem to pop up daily. Teeling Whiskey has been available in China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan since 2015; enjoyed by consumers who value new and interesting flavour expressions as they seek to explore the brown spirits category.
The year of the Chicken (2017) was an exciting time for Teeling Whiskey in the region. We launched our first Greater China exclusive – the Silk Road Collection. A collaboration with the award winning Kanaan Winery from the Helan Mountain wine region in central Ningxia province; the Silk Road Collection is the world’s first whiskey aged using wine barrels from China. In this case, French oak Cabernet Sauvignon casks.
The craft cocktail revolution is blossoming in China also. Last year Shanghai’s Speak Low ranked #10 in The World’s 50 Best Bars, and was in good company with Hong Kong spots Quinary (#40) and Lobster Bar (#49). The blossoming cocktail scene is not confined to these cities either; Guangzhou speakeasy Hope & Sesame is quickly gaining a reputation internationally for their craft, aided by a recent European tour. While a Teeling Whiskey sponsored junior bartender competition in the regional southern city of Kunming revealed some remarkable young talent.
The year of the Dog is looking to be a landmark year for Teeling Whiskey in Asia. Not only will our first whiskey distilled in Dublin since the 70s come of age, but we are returning as a sponsor to Hong Kong’s Spirit of Ireland cocktail competition on March 5th. Later in March we will host St. Patrick’s Day parties at cocktail lounge Lobster Bar and legendary Hong Kong nightlife venue The Pontiac.
So let’s raise a glass of Dublin’s finest, and wish health and prosperity to family and friends for the year of the Dog – Kung Hey Fat Choy!
BTW, if you turn 24, 36, 48 (or any multiple of 12) between now and February 2019 then you were born under the sign of the Dog – enjoy all the luck coming your way this year!
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