Korea world’s top consumer of super-premium whiskey

Shit, that’s a lot of whiskey :

Korea consumed more top-range whisky aged 17 years or over than any other country in the world last year, according to a survey.

Korea topped the list with 698,000 cases (9 liters per case) of super-premium whisky, according to the survey by the U.K.’s International Wine and Spirit Research. It has ranked top for 11 consecutive years.

The U.S. was a distant second with 478,000 cases, or 68 percent of Korea’s consumption, followed by China (234,000 cases), Taiwan, Japan, and France.

What’s sad is not the amount of drinking, but that much of the premium whiskey is being wasted in boilermakers, apparently. A true tragedy.

Anyway, Ye Olde Chosun found this proper starting point to pen an editorial on how Korea’s consumer bubble reminded them of pre-bubble Japan, and how the life of luxury and leisure had robbed the young of a sense of challenge.

Bah, humbug!

  • dogbertt

    Does that count include North Korea?

  • madar

    God, I’ve been to those karoke, “big shot”, nights out, where they buy a bottle of high end whiskey and drop shots of it into glasses of Hite or Cass! They don’t want to drink it, just show each other they have the cash to throw around for what they view as a high priced soju! It really is a shame.

  • Wedge

    It’s a crime against barley what they do with high-end whiskey in this country.

  • Flyingsword K

    All the time and effort to get dropped into a class off OB!! Oh the humanity…..

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I’m not surprised that Korea leads the world in the consumption of high-end whiskey. I wouldn’t be surprised if Korea led the world in consumption of low-end whiskey, high-end beer, low-end beer, vodka, gin, wine, soju, anti-freeze, mouth wash, vanilla extract….

  • Maximus2008

    “Shit, that’s a lot of whiskey”

    “Korea consumed more top-range whisky”

    Are you talking about “whiskey” (American) or “whisky” (Scotch) ?

  • Angusmack

    As long as we’re talking about crimes against single malts…I saw an old grandpa take a shot of Macallan’s 18 and dump it into his beer. This was after the bartender tried to reason with him that it should be sipped. But in the end it was his 20,000 won so he can do with it as he pleases.

  • hansbrix

    Try getting through the morning after a night drinking boilermakers without a “sense of challenge.”

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Whiskey is Irish.

  • PeterDownUnder

    LOL had to google “whiskey boilermaker” to realise boilermaker meant “poktanju 폭탄주”

    Thought for a second premium whiskey had a place in the industrial manufacturing of boiler makers LOL

  • http://ulsanonline.com martypants

    Sadly, all the Koreans I know that purchase premium (insert product here) it’s not the quality, taste, style or anything else that makes them buy. It’s the price. The higher the price, the more friends and colleagues will be impressed. The fact that they’re making boilermakers is proof they aren’t drinking it for the smooth taste.

  • gbnhj

    The way barley malt is abused by the local breweries is a crime as well.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    I was at an event where I saw 17-year-old Ballentines, Hite, soju, and Coca-cola mixed in a bowl. When I saw the bowl coming out I thought, oh Christ, I know where this is going. When there was about 1/4 left in the bottle I went over to check it – yes, it was the super expensive stuff. An ajeoshi saw me checking the bottle and came over and divided it between me and my two waegook friends in generous shots. At least three people in the room were able to enjoy it.

  • dww

    Korea’s Imperial whiskey gives me the poops. I gotta stick to Johnny Walker even if it has a higher price tag.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Whisky, scotch…disgusting. Give me a vodka any day. Soju? Its a girl’s drink.

  • PeterDownUnder


    A large part of knowing how to drink is knowing what drinks suit you personally.

    I personally can down tons of scotch but will wretch like no tomorrow on rum. I have a friend that can down vodka like nothing but goes tomato red after a couple of beers.

    Soju is truly the Korean liquor of choice. Cheap and fast. 빨리빨리 drink for Koreans.

  • PeterDownUnder

    Also I believe old Soju like in the 60s were more like a Korean version of moonshine than a cultured historic drink. IMO

  • http://adamsawry.wordpress.com Adams-awry

    It may be high-priced, but it ain’t high-end. Korean’s drink very little single malt. Dropping a shot of Ballantine’s into a glass of beer is about all that piss is good for.

  • Bendrix

    I’m a Scotch novice but I love the stuff and every once in a while I’ll pick up a bottle. I prefer the strong Islay and Skye stuff. I can’t believe they dump Scotch into crappy Korean beer. That’s truly a shame.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    Whiskey could be Irish. 😉

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “I was at an event where I saw 17-year-old Ballentines, Hite, soju, and Coca-cola mixed in a bowl. ”

    Now that’s a crime. Ballantine’s 17 Years old, although not outrageously priced (65$ at the duty free shop), is arguably the best blended whisky in the world. I always have a bottle at home.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “The way barley malt is abused by the local breweries is a crime as well.”

    Dude, almost no hops or malt in that yellow piss. Most of it is rice.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    Ah, you beat me to it.

  • SomeguyinKorea
  • CactusMcHarris

    I forget the name of the single malt aged 40-50 years that they have on sale at BevMo, but it’s $800 and change.

  • gbnhj


    Dude, almost no hops or malt in that yellow piss. Most of it is rice.

    Quite right about the malt, dude (and hence, the crime). I’m not whether local brewers actually use less hops, but they certainly use inferior hops for their typical brew. Personally, I can’t wait for the FTA to harmonize fast enough, so local brewers can purchase great Chinook and Cascade hops at more reasonable prices then they do now.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    You have more faith in the local breweries than I do. Hopefully, once that’s done, that’ll make it easier for more microbreweries to open up. They are the ones who have and will brew decent beer here. I doubt the large breweries will drift far from their low cost/low quality/high return business formula.

    And, yes, I can’t wait for the day I can walk into a convenience store and buy an Indian pale ale (my beer of choice back home for over 20 years, long before it became fashionable), not that I’m holding my breath for it.

  • gbnhj

    I have faith in the market. Currently, most Korean breweries use hops that are grown domestically, but climate and soil conditions aren’t great for that. So, while domestic hops producers are certainly likely to bang the 신토불이 drum while offering better prices, the economics created by the removal of tariffs will be hard to miss.

    American producers (particularly in Washington State) are generally considered to grow the best hops in volume, and their prices absent customs and VAT duties will look really sweet to brewers. This will be true of the market in general, and not merely the microbreweries that have popped up in recent years. The ‘low cost/low quality/high return business formula’ you mentioned is certainly ready to welcome higher quality at the same price – market that, and you get higher returns.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “The ‘low cost/low quality/high return business formula’ you mentioned is certainly ready to welcome higher quality at the same price – market that, and you get higher returns.”

    It may well be. It’s not as if imports aren’t popular (even if most people seem to be heading for the cheap no-name German beer that sells for 1600 won a can…still, these are superior products to the local fare which is a clear indication that even the most casual beer drinkers are developing a thirst for something better).

  • http://adamsawry.wordpress.com Adams-awry

    I don’t like to comment more than once on any thread, but here I have to say some things:

    “the best blended whisky”

    is an oxymoron, yah moron!

    And EVERYBODY in the industry knows those awards are bought and sold.

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  • Arghaeri

    Millions of satisfied customers say differently!

    And I think the concept of someguy drinking IPA long before it became fashionable would be nearer to an oxymoron since it was fashionable more than a century before he was born.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    Popular and trendy are not the same.

  • Arghaeri

    Yep, right, it became popular overnight in the nineteenth century. One day zero next day really popular, no need for tendsetters in the nineteenth century.

  • Arghaeri

    and the term you used was fashionable…