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New Taiwanese whisky launches in the UK

Cellar Trends is bringing Taiwanese malt whisky Omar to the UK market, after signing as the UK distribution partner.

Omar – Gaelic for amber – is made at the Nantou distillery in central Taiwan, which is owned by the state-owned Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corporation (TTL).

The whisky comprises two expressions, a bourbon cask-aged malt and a sherry cask-aged whisky, which retail between £63 and £67, and has already been stocked by the Whisky Exchange.

Cellar Trends says it has a number of potential specialist stockists interested in the brand.

Omar was first trialled in 2008 and went into production the following year, with the first release onto the domestic market in 2015. However TTLC is keen to see the brand expand into the European market and has signed with Bordeaux-based Les Whiskies du Monde as its main European distributor.

UK-based Cellar Trends, which works with Les Whiskies du Monde on its Japanese whisky portfolio, will be responsible for the UK market. It is starting with an initially small allocation, but has the potential to increase this once the brand’s potential has been assessed.

Brand manager Caroline Pihoue said Omar’s potential was had to predict as there was currently only rival brand Kavalan on the market, but world whiskies and particularly Taiwanese whisky, were “incredibly hot” at the moment.

“We can see consumers looking for whiskies from all around the world – Japanese and Indian whiskies are interesting – but the consumers wants to try something different.”

She said consumer feedback from the Whisky Show this month, where Omar was first shown to the public, had been promising. “It is a smoother, more rounded whisky, with the sherry cask malt giving an easy to drink, subtle flavour,” she said.

At a recent trends briefing by the Whisky Exchange, co-founder Sukhinder Singh tipped Taiwan to step into the breach left by a shrinking stock and high prices of Japanese whisky.

“Taiwanese whiskies have started to win awards and people are taking note. Looking at the culture, there is huge respect for Japan and its people are inspired by the Japanese,” he noted.

The country’s climate, temperature and high humidity mean it can produce an “aged” style whisky in a shorter time (a 3-4 year old aged whisky from Taiwan is roughly equivalent of a 12-15 year old whisky in Scotland, he argued).

Taiwan’s other distillery, Kavalan, is set to double its production capacity in the next few years and is already eying up the lucrative American market, with a new campaign projecting its bottles onto the billboards of Times Square.

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