Rome, May 31 – Italian grappa exports jumped 15% last year, led by soaring demand in Asia, even as the domestic market for the traditional alcoholic drink slumped, according to figures provided by AssoDistil, the Italian association of industrial distillers on Friday. During its annual meeting, the association said that overall grappa production - made by distilling skins, pulp, seeds and stems left over from wine-making - has risen 18%. That of acquavite d'uva, which is similar to grappa and made by distilling whole must, gained 14%, while that of fruit-based brandies was stable. The biggest export market for the sector remains Germany, which absorbs 62% of total sales of bottled products. France, Austria and the US are other leading markets. Easter European demand has also gained in the past year, with sales in Estonia jumping 10%, Lithuania rose 24%, Slovakia 13% and Albania 64%. Russian demand in the period gained 27%. Asian demand also surged last year, with Thai exports jumping 60%, sales to the Philippines gaining 40% and Japanese ones 20%.