Johnnie Walker’s Asian ‘embassy’ is a bar, but not as you know it

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IT IS the kind of welcome in China of which Alex Salmond dreams.

Scotland’s national tipple has proven so popular in Shanghai that Diageo Johnnie Walker House has now opened a second property in the country’s capital, Beijing, to cope with the huge demand for a wee dram.

Diageo, Scotland’s largest distiller, which also makes Bells, Gordon’s gin, Guinness and Smirnoff, has claimed the new Johnnie Walker House is the world’s largest “embassy” for Scotch whisky.

The launch reinforces China’s growing reputation as the No 1 destination for luxury products, with Johnnie Walker’s red, blue, black and gold label brands proving no exception.

Like its sister property in Shanghai, which opened last year, the Beijing house comes with a luxurious lounge, bar, museum, retail outlet and an exclusive members-only whisky vaults and club for those most partial to the lure of the amber nectar. Diageo said it was responding to demand from Chinese consumers with a nose for not just the whisky itself, but also for information about the drink and its history.

Gilbert Ghostine, president, of Diageo Asia Pacific, said: “The Johnnie Walker House in Shanghai has been our most successful experiment in marketing and commercial innovation in Asia to date.

“This was a journey for our consumers, as well as our business, and we are very happy to share even more luxurious offerings through the Johnnie Walker House Beijing. This experience has brought incredible success and new energy to Johnnie Walker’s century-long story of progress in China.”

Diageo has said the Shanghai outlet helped boost whisky sales in China. Sales of Johnnie Walker have risen by 64 per cent since it opened in 2011.

The distiller has continued to see strong growth in emerging markets.

Demand for Scotch whisky in China, and for premium spirits across North America – which accounts for a third of sales – helped the spirits giant report first-quarter figures in line with expectations in October, despite weaker results in western 
Europe and other parts of Asia.