Japan's Fuji becomes newcomer in U.S. whiskey market

By The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kirin Brewery Co. splashed into the U.S. whiskey market this month, launching a high-end, single-grain spirit aimed at a niche crowd in its debut.

Kirin Single Grain Japanese Whiskey Fuji, which uses only unblended whiskey made at a distillery at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture, was launched in the U.S. at prices about 95 dollars per 700 milliliter bottle.

The company plans to gradually increase exports to the United States, a promising market that accounts for about 35% of the world's high-priced whiskey consumption, eyeing competition with Japanese rivals such as Suntory Spirits Ltd.

Japanese whiskey accounts for only 3% of the U.S. high-end whiskey market. Suntory already exports the Hibiki and Toki brand products, while the Nikka Whisky Distilling Co., which is an affiliate of Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., sells Taketsuru and other brand items in the United States.

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