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Whisky customers opting for low-proof products amid market slump

South Korea's whisky market, which has been contracting for eight years in a row, is showing some changes as buyers opt for low-proof products and brand diversity, industry watchers said Thursday.

Scotch whisky over 40 proof had dominated the market, but is being replaced by those with weaker alcohol content, according to data. Sales of high-proof Scotch whisky fell 46 percent in the January-July period this year compared with the same period in 2014. Sales of low-proof whisky, however, surged 132.5 percent. 


Golden Blue, a local brand with under-40 proof, became the second-most popular whisky in the country last year just seven years after its launch.

There is also brand diversification, although not pronounced, according to industry officials. Scotch whisky accounted for 97.7 percent of the local market in 2014, but this has dipped to 95.5 percent so far this year. Officials noted that this is a trend in other countries, including South Africa, Australia, India and Taiwan, where local brands are gaining ground.

South Korea's whisky market has been on a downslide since 2010.

Last year, sales declined 4.5 percent from 2015. The tally for January-May this year indicated a 6.8 percent fall compared with the same period in 2016. 

Such developments buck the market forecast by IWSR, provider of market data and information on spirits, which predicted that the whisky market will grow 6.3 percent this year compared with 2014.

"Diversification will increase in Korea's whisky market," a market watcher said. "In order for our market to expand, companies need to develop different products that fit our taste and quality demands."  (Yonhap)