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South Korea launches its first single malt whisky

Ki One, the first single malt to be made in South Korea using local ingredients, will be available soon in five global markets.

Ki One Tiger Edition is the first whisky of its kind to be mashed, fermented, distilled, and matured in oak casks in Korea. Its producer, Three Societies Distillery, said it had made the whisky “with local characteristics that Koreans can be proud of.”

Apart from the American oak casks in which the whisky is aged for two years, all other flavours in this “distinctly Korean” spirit are home grown, producing notes of banana and peach, with a long, spicy ending to the drink.

The single malt drop is made in South Korea from start to finish and its first batch of 1,506 bottles will head to the US, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. The flagship whisky will then make its way to Canada and Europe, including Scotland, from later this month onwards.

It is already available to purchase cellar door from the distillery, where it is also possible to try a Cask Strength version of the spirit.

Aged from July, 2020, the distillery’s tasting notes describe the Korean whisky as being packed with “oakiness, with vibes of a bowl of summer fruit salad. The taste has vanilla pods and juicy peaches dancing on your tongue before a big hit of oriental spice. The long lingering spices give way to barley sugar and a forest of oak.”

After the Tiger Edition, the distillery intends to make a Unicorn and an Eagle expression in coming years.

Three Societies CEO Bryan Do said: “We chose Ki One as our whisky name because it has two meaningful definitions in Korean, beginning, and hope. These two themes perfectly encapsulate our spirit as we are at the beginning of the single malt whisky journey from Korea to the world.”

In 2019, Diageo decided to close its South Korean whisky plant, based in Icheon, citing “low utilisation” and “cost competitiveness” as reasons.

“The vast majority of Icheon’s production is for export and production will therefore be moved closer to demand markets in Asia Pacific, including Japan and Vietnam,” said Robert Rhee, managing director of Diageo Korea, at the time.

The following year, Edrington Korea also announced plans to shut up shop, with the parent company of The Macallan brand making the decision “after a review of our business model in the Korean market.”



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