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Can ‘Made in China’ Make it for Vodka?

Post Time:Jul 02,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:397

This week saw the launch of one of the more interesting Chinese branding efforts we’ve seen in a while. Diageo, the U.K. company behind Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness, has teamed up with Shui Jing Fang, China’s oldest maker of the potent spirit called baijiu, to produce a premium vodka in the southwestern city Chengdu using a combination of Russian and Chinese techniques.

Dancers toast with cocktails at the launch of Shanghai White vodka

Paying homage to China’s heyday of exotic glamour in the eyes of the West, the vodka is called “Shanghai White.” At a launch party in Hong Kong on Wednesday, the theme was 1930s Shanghai speakeasy, complete with art deco-style bars, skimpily dressed cabaret dancers and an MC in a top hat and tails. The frosted glass Shanghai White bottle combines chinoiserie patterns with art deco designs in silver and blue.

The vodka is made in Shui Jing Fang’s Chengdu distillery, where it is distilled four times over a period of six months before being bottled and sold at a suggested retail price of US$60. While Shanghai White’s launch was described as global, for now it is only available at a few locations in Hong Kong, and it’s not clear what other markets the vodka may appear in next.

China has been a strong market for Diageo, which also has a joint venture with Shui Jing Fang’s parent company, Sichuan Chengdu Quanxing Group. In September, the head of Diageo’s Asia Pacific division said China would probably be the company’s most stable and resilient market in Asia, according to Reuters, and the profitability of the company’s fast-growing whisky business in China, fueled by sales of Johnnie Walker, has helped to fund growth in other areas. Last year, Diageo introduced Guinness stout in China, where it is marketed as a top-end premium brew.

For its part, the Shanghai-listed Shui Jing Fang (aka Swellfun), is also a purveyor of high-end spirits. A half-liter bottle of its 122-proof baijiu, which traces its lineage back to the 14th century, retails for around 880 yuan ($129).

Source: http://blogs.wsj.comAuthor: shangyi

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