From Hardcore to Finesse

22 juin 2015

Not only in Cambodia. Anywhere in Asia: Whisky and Cognac have been the official drink – for Ages.

Check out the wedding tables, the karaoke bars, the night clubs, etc… Red label and VSOP all over the tables. “Ganbei!” “Ganbei!” … can be heard everywhere.

No doubt that brown spirits often match Chinese cuisine very well.

Chivas & green tea: the traditional drink

However, the last decade has seen a smooth change, moving from hard spirits to wine… becoming more and more visible on the banquet tables and in various restaurants.

What happened? Did people suddenly change their taste buds?

I dont think so.

You can actually notice that, across the Asian continent, this “drinking transition” has operated everywhere… in some super developed places like Singapore where Westerners represent a big ratio of the population; this move has started quite some time ago.

But it is happening here also, in Cambodia. Let’s try to understand why.

  1. French Heritage?

Well… Yes and No. Considering that the average age is 24 years old in Cambodia, I doubt than many consumers do remember the “drinking Habit” of the French. But for a tiny part of the population, the older ones, sure it has impacted their vision of wine, and their consumption remains very traditional: Bordeaux only.

  1. Wine is better for health

The younger generation is more concerned by Health issues. The so famous French Paradox has truly impacted the consumption habit of Asians. The almost-adage “one glass of wine a day keep the doctor away” is becoming a religion. Let’s drink wine and we’ll have a super heart!!! (Children, if you read this, remember that we are talking about a couple of glasses per day).

Wine is not as strong a whisky. That’s a fact.

  1. Wine offers a lot of diversity

From white to red to bubbles, from Bordeaux to Italy through Australia, wine always has many stories to tell!

However, RED wine is definitely the winner here. For more than 90% of the consumption. Full body red wine is probably an easier move after Whisky?

White, rosé, bubbles: be patient, your day will come.

  1. Wine is trendy

Newer generations are more sensitive to Trends. Red label & sodas are giving space to glasses of wine and trendier cocktails.

  1. Women can appreciate it

While the society is becoming more and more egalitarian (“more and more” does not mean the job is done), women can also learn how to appreciate a good drink – in some places at least.

Wine is an easier start for ladies, not used to strong spirits. Watching some imported TV shows (from US or Korean soaps) might also have contributed to create a curiosity, for women from middle to high classes only – obviously.


I am not saying that Whisky will no longer be enjoyed in Asia. But this trend shows that, little by little, the tastes and habits are becoming more sophisticated, the moments and reasons for enjoying a glass are changing, and the quality is slightly taking over the quantity.

Less bottoms-up and more appreciation.

Cheap whiskies are giving space to sophisticated single malts or other more premium “sippers”.

from hardcore to finesse 2

A bit of finesse in this world…










But a good glass of red label &soda while singing at Karaoke with fellow colleagues will ALWAYS work for me.

No matter how sophisticated I am.


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