Japanese drama boosts whisky sales

A Japanese TV show has been credited with boosting sales of Nikka whisky in what has been described as the Japanese “Mad Men effect”.


Tetsuji Tamayama and Charlotte Kate Fox as Masaharu and Ellie Kameyama in Massan.

Much like the US series Mad Men has been credited with reviving a love of retro cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned, Massan has been credited with reviving sales of domestic Japanese whisky.

Broadcast on NHK, the TV series is based on the lives of the “mother and father of Japanese whisky”, Masataka Taketsuru and his Scottish wife, Rita Cowan. Taketsuru returned to Japan in 1923 to join the drinks company Kotobukiya, now known as Suntory, and helped to establish its whisky distillery. The show’s plot revolves around his wife’s clashes with her Japanese mother-in-law and husband’s jilted fiancée.

Nikka, which is owned by Asahi Breweries, claims sales of Nikka whiskey have increased 50% in the last three months, compared to the same period last year, as reported by Japan News. Since the show first aired on 29 September, Massan has attracted a largely female audience which Nikka again credits with growing sales of its whisky.

Shinichi Hirano, a corporate officer at Asahi Breweries, told Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbui: “The sales show a steady increase that we have never experienced. We hope to make women more familiar with domestic whiskey [sic] to keep this boom alive.”

In response to increasing popularity, Nikka has recreated the company’s original 1956 Black Nikka blended whisky. Rival company Suntory has followed suit announcing the release of its first Kakubin 1937 blend.

The real life Masataka Taketsuru and his wife, Rita Cowan.

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