After nudging sales back into positive territory in China for the first time since 2013, Pernod Ricard announced in September that it would harness the appeal of NBA basketball to drive sales of Chivas Regal, its flagship whisky brand.

The multi-year partnership with NBA China was a gamble for the company, coming after it admitted making mistakes in the country. Using American basketball to sell Scotch whisky in China may seem a stretch, but if it continues the first quarter momentum it will be more of a slam dunk.

Sales of Chivas Regal, which suffered double digital decline in China last year, have not been helped by a government crackdown on extravagant goods, but its return to growth highlights that Pernod Ricard is building to investment in the brand at the right time.

That said, as any basketball aficionado will admit, it’s a game of four quarters and the company has already said second quarter momentum will be slowed by the impact of a late Chinese New Year.

It all reinforces just how important the Asian market is to the whisky industry. While India has been hobbled by a ban on selling alcohol near main roads, a resurgent China is just what the industry needs as we enter a new world.

And if the UK applies the same sort of negotiating prowess currently being sniggered at in Brussels to securing trade deals in Asia, bigger challenges lie ahead.