The UK arm of the French alcoholic beverage firm Pernod Ricard has expanded its portfolio by acquiring the national distribution and global marketing rights of Japanese gin KI NO BI and Italicus.

From 1 May, Pernod Ricard UK will be distributing the two brands in the country.

Pernod Ricard UK Business Development director Ian Peart said: “KI NO BI will drive value at the Super-Premium+ end of the Gin category, which by the end of last year was growing +19% in the on-trade, by tapping into the continued popularity of Japanese whiskey (+24% in the off-trade) and increasing growth of Japanese Gin (+18%).”

In the UK, KI NO BI was earlier distributed by Cask Liquid Marketing, while Italicus was distributed by Cellar Trends.

KI NO BI is an artisanal gin, distilled in Japan’s gin distillery, which was built in Kyoto in 2016.

The gin has produced using high-quality rice spirit and Japanese botanicals such as yuzu, lemon, sansho pepper, ginger and gyokuro tea.

Italicus with 20% alcohol by volume (ABV), said to be suitable for consumers seeking for a low-ABV spirit.

Peart added: “With Italicus, we will target two growing consumer trends. Firstly, ‘Spritz’ cocktails, which are gaining momentum and now feature in the UK’s top 10 favourite cocktails and secondly, as a lower-ABV spirit, Italicus provides an alternative for the 38% of cocktail consumers claiming to drink lower-alcohol options than one year ago.”

In March, Pernod Ricard invested Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, maker of bergamot-infused aperitivo.

The investment in the Italian brand is part of the French group’s strategy to expand its portfolio of premium speciality spirits.

Pernod Ricard, the world’s second-largest spirits group behind Diageo, did not reveal the size of its investment.