Suntory -196 duo

–196’s drinks are made by freezing fruit using liquid nitrogen. The frozen zest, pulp and juice are then crushed and infused with vodka

Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I is to make a first foray into alcohol by launching Japanese pre-mix alcohol brand –196 in the UK.

The brand – owned by parent company Suntory Holdings in Japan – will make its UK bow in April with a duo of 6% abv ready-to-drink cans in lemon and grapefruit flavours.

Stockists for –196 Lemon and –196 Grapefruit (rsps: TBC) were not made immediately available by SBF GB&I.

Taking its name from Suntory’s “proprietary freeze crush infusion technology”, –196’s drinks are made by freezing fruit using liquid nitrogen at at –196°C. The frozen zest, pulp and juice are then crushed into powder and infused with vodka.

The brand was launched by Suntory in Japan in 2005 and has subsequently rolled out to Australia (2021) and China (2023). It will land in the UK, Germany, the US and south east Asia this year.

By “combining a traditional Japanese spirit with modern technology”, the brand would “bring something new and different” to the RTD category in the UK, SBF GB&I said.

“This launch marks a significant move for us into the ready to drink alcohol market and is part of a much bigger strategy for portfolio growth,” said SBF GB&I chief operating officer Carol Robert. “We’re very proud of our Japanese heritage and honoured to be launching one of Suntory’s iconic brands in our business for the first time.”

SBF GB&I sales director Alpesh Mistry added: “It’s our first step into alcohol but with years selling some of the UK’s most popular soft drinks and the continued strong performance of our brands, we know we can make it success.

“We have a number of people in our business who bring great previous experience of the alcohol market, so know we’re in a strong position to bring this exciting launch to consumers.”