S. KOREAN RETAIL GIANTS SHINSEGAE AND LOTTE WILL MAKE WISKIES FROM EXOTIC JEJU ISLAND
By Susan Lewis
Credit: N. Riaz/Unsplash
South Korea’s leading retailers, the Shinsegae Group and the Lotte Group, had picked Jeju Island in the south to build their own whisky distilleries, to benefit from the island’s clean water and exotic image.
Shinsegae will be using the facilities of Jeju Soju, a soju distillery purchased by Shinsegae earlier, for the production of whiskies, according to local media.
Reports also said Shinsegae’s beverage arm, Shinsegae L&B, has already registered 14 trademarks for whiskies to prepare for the new business, indicating that the company will soon be able to start whisky production.
"We have moved fast to be the first to use the clean and exotic image of Jeju Island in whisky marketing," an official from Shinsegae L&B told Korea’s EconoTimes.
Shinsegae’s main competitor, the Lotte Group, is also looking to produce their own brand of whiskies from Jeju Island.
Lotte Group's beverage unit, Lotte Chilsung Beverage, revealed that it had got permission from Jeju authorities to convert a parcel of land it owns into a whisky distillery. The site used to be a tangerine farm and construction is expected to start next year.
"After getting advice from experts, we picked Jeju Island because its natural environment, clean water, and temperature are optimal conditions for whisky production," The Korea Herald quoted an official from Lotte Chilsung Beverage as saying.
"But even if we complete building the distillery, it might take some time to launch Lotte's whisky brand since the whisky must be matured for several years," the official added.
The Wine Chronicle reported earlier that both companies were actively recruiting whisky experts from Scotland and beyond to help set up whisky distilleries at home.
Shinsegae and Lotte are in fierce competition in every aspect of retail in South Korea. Apart from big department stores, Shinsegae also owns E-mart convenience stores and the “Wine and More” outlets while Lotte also owns the 7-Eleven chain in South Korea.
The two companies have been caught in a fight for market share in wine and spirits retail amid rapid growth of consumption in South Korea in recent years.
Having long been focusing on the entry level market, both companies are expanding to the premium segment as well. Shinsegae acquired the Shafer Vineyard in California’s Napa Valley in February, while Lotte is actively looking to buy a vineyard in Europe.
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