In the alcoholic beverage industry, letting consumers know more about their drinks of choice has become a major subject for discussion. The key breakthrough point lies within the education of wine and spirits, as well as the cultivation of professional guides.
Wine training was founded initially to serve the growing educational needs in the wine and spirits industry. With increased consumption and market shifts, more and more wine enthusiasts began to take courses and accredited professional programs out of their personal interests in wine and spirits.
The success of WSET (WINE & SPIRITS EDUCATION TRUST) in Greater China has also inspired the liquor sector. Japanese sake and Chinese traditional baijiu have established their own educational programs respectively, with intentions to engage young consumers and drive brand rejuvenation.
WINWSA conducted an extensive interview with key players in the wine and liquor education sector.
“Whisky education introduces the spirit to a wider audience and encourages them to develop an acquired taste and affection for whisky, which consequently allows for the growth of the industry.”
Yue Yong, Founder and President of WBA
With its rapid growth and rising influence among the younger generations, whisky proves its potential in the Chinese market. Statistically, the sales and transaction prices of whisky are constantly hitting new highs globally and especially in China. While the international whisky industry continues to rise, the domestic whisky industry has just begun to develop. With lots of improvements needed and more room for development, the future of whisky production, brewing, and marketing in China will grow to be more professional and filled with local characteristics. Today, whisky is no longer a niche option of beverages. Its clientele now includes a significant amount of young people, including those born in the 2000s. Instead of being a drink at business dinners, whisky has truly entered people’s lives as a manifestation of a kind of lifestyle.
Although whisky is the primary alcoholic beverage choice for social occasions globally, it has a relatively short history in China. At a time when Chinese consumers can pay for what they like thanks to rising spending power, whisky education becomes all the more important for market penetration. Whisky education introduces the spirits to a wider audience and encourages them to develop an acquired taste and affection for whisky, which consequently allows for the growth of the industry. Meanwhile, it is important for us to constantly supply the industry with high-quality professionals for it to sustain and operate optimally.
Alcohol education is still a growing sector in China with unavoidable problems and challenges. However, no matter what obstacles arise, in my opinion, it comes down to one shared solution: deal with it with professionalism.
“Learning from them can better equip Chinese beer practitioners with the knowledge to successfully brew our own unique and excellent beer.”
Hao Shuai, Founder of Critical Drinker
There has been an ongoing shift in drinking habits and innovative transformations of style in the global beer industry. The market share of craft beer is increasing every year, with more and more emerging boutique breweries and brands. New beer styles are constantly introduced and added to the traditional style system. The use of raw materials and brewing technologies has also improved. Brewers around the world are committed to implementing unique, terroir-specific ingredients in their beers.
Crossovers and collaborations are a major trend in the beer industry. Compared to other more historical alcoholic beverages, beer has hardly any rigid legal restrictions on brewing, allowing it to be more innovative. Nowadays, more and more brewers are adopting technologies and raw materials from the production of other drinks, including wine and sake. Whisky aged in beer barrels and beer aged in whisky barrels are examples of such practices.
As beer is a foreign product to China, adopting experience from abroad is instrumental for local beer education. The domestic beer industry has already seen several independent and innovative research. The focus of Critical Drinker’s courses is on the style, serving, and tasting of beer. At the same time, more subdivided courses will be developed according to the needs of students.
The United States is undoubtedly at the forefront of many aspects of the beer industry, including technology and innovation. Learning from them can better equip Chinese beer practitioners with the knowledge to successfully brew our own unique and excellent beer.
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Images courtesy: Interviewees and web