The hotel industry has been paying close attention to the rising numbers of Chinese tourists, and in particular how they spend their money in the F&B outlets. What we’d really like to keep tabs on is what they’re drinking these days, and for Chinese business travelers it seems they’re sticking with the old-school drinks like whiskey.

To find out more, Hotelintel.co reached out to brand ambassador for Pernod Ricard, Darren Hoise, who shared his thoughts on the topic.

Funny that you mention whiskey. I was down in Manila couple of weeks ago doing some training at a hotel and their F&B director was mentioning that they are looking to expand their whiskey selection as they have more and more Chinese guests staying with them – there’s a casino as part of the complex so no surprises that more and more Chinese are going there!”

Single malt is still growing well in Asia and hotels do seem a perfect place for people to try new ones that they haven’t tried before. Many staying in hotels will be there on business, and therefore on expenses, so they are usually a bit more willing to try something new or more expensive than they normally would if out in bars with friends.”

For single malts, as the population gets more and more education and information they are starting to look for something different and a little bit out of the norm, so that they can impress their peers with their knowledge.”

That ‘something different’ might just include Pernod Ricard’s latest offering for Ballantine’s – a flavored spirit drink called Ballantine’s Brasil, which is 35% abv. This is lower than the traditional strength you’d expect for Scotch, which would normally be above 40%, and is representative of a new trend, with a number of competitors also launching whiskeys with a lower abv of between 30-40%.

There is also quite a move towards lower alcohol strength spirits in South Korea,” added Darren. “We recently launched a new product called Eclat by Imperial – Imperial is a Scotch brand that we sell only there – and it has an abv of 31%, pomegranate flavored and targets female drinkers. It’s flavored with Brazilian lime peel – so fitting in with the current trend for citrus flavors being popular.”

While the traditional drinks are coming on strong, or in the case of Ballantine’s Brasil, slightly less strong, we’ve also noticed a new trend appealing to those who are more health conscious.

Belle Kearatifuengfoo, COO of SEA Beverage Thailand, has recently introduced Lambrini to Southeast Asia’s F&B outlets, observing that this Perry drink is suitable for everyone. “It’s easy to drink with no strong sense of alcohol, and because its alcohol content and calorie count are so low, it’s ideal for those who are health conscious or for social drinkers who simply want to enjoy something mild without getting intoxicated,” Belle commented.

In summary, it seems there are three almost contradictory trends in play. The strong traditional whiskeys are clearly still in demand, especially with the Chinese business demographic, yet health conscious consumers prefer something lighter that packs far less of a punch. Between the extremes, spirits with lower alcohol content are fast gaining popularity, with female drinkers becoming a more significant target market. Dutifully keeping up with all three trends simultaneously might well be enough to drive hoteliers to drink.