2018 October

Whisk(e)y accounts for 21% of all UK spirits sales and it dominates the off-trade channel, but there is still a massive opportunity to grow the category further. It vastly under-trades among female consumers and younger adults, and retailers can reap the rewards if they compose exciting ranges that appeal to a broader demographic. For that reason we decided to launch Think Whisky, building on the success of our popular Think Gin and Think Rum events, in order to help them share best practice.

Back in January, I decided I was going to make summer 2018 a stay-cation so I could make the most of all the amazing places and sights we have here in the UK. I gambled with the British weather and it paid off. This summer was the UK’s joint hottest on record, with temperatures consistently hitting 30°C from the end of June to the middle of August, bringing an uplift in off-trade BWS sales.

Robinsons has revealed a fresh new look and name for its 122-year old Unicorn beer and it has also added three new premium bottled beers to its portfolio.

This April the dam levels in the Western Cape slumped to a low of just 18% and South Africans were bracing themselves for Day Zero.

Leading investors gathered at the Mayfair Hotel last week to listen to Cam Battley, chief corporate officer at Canadian firm Aurora Cannabis, wax lyrical about the marijuana industry’s vast potential. Make no mistake, this is going to become a large, global industry, bigger than global brewing,” he said. And I’ll tell you why. Beer has no legitimate medical applications, no matter what we tell ourselves on a Friday evening.”

In my last column, I asked whether wine has enough cultural and historical value to survive the increasingly prevalent anti-alcohol sentiment in Britain, which is precisely the kind of #bantz that explains why I always end up standing by myself at parties.

As I write, there’s a ragu simmering on the stove. It began with the unhurried dicing of onions, carrots and celery, followed by the browning of the mince, and the addition of wine and tomato. It’s the first of the year, and like the returning blast of the central heating or the wearing of jumpers, it’s a sign that autumn is here, and with it the best season for wine lovers.

Independent Spirit of Bath

17 October, 2018

Independent Spirit of Bath started in 2013 when Chris Scullion and Christian Morrish met and decided the city was missing a dedicated spirits venue. Sonya Hook talks to Chris Scullion:

Ancoats General Store is described as being “no ordinary corner shop”. People can buy everyday and more specialist grocery products but they can also sit in, drink coffee and play board games. Sonya Hook talks to Mital Morar:

An Essex-based farmer has launched a gin made using an eau de vie from apples grown in the farm’s orchards, utilising fruit which would otherwise go to waste.

Organic alcoholic drinks from other categories will we be exhibited alongside wine for the first time at next year’s Millesime Bio, described as ‘the world’s leading organic wine fair’.

Maison Bruno Paillard has launched a new zero dosage cuvée into the UK market.

Curious Brewery has appointed an ex AB-Inbev beer expert as its new Head of Brewing & Production.

Maker’s Mark is offering retailers and distributors the chance to work in partnership to create a “bespoke handcrafted cask-strength barrel-aged liquid”, with the first of its collaboration partners announced as Harvey Nichols.

Tom Jago: 1925-2018

16 October, 2018

Drinks industry pioneer and Baileys Irish Cream co-creator Tom Jago has died at the age of 93 after a short stay in hospital.

Sainsbury’s has taken on a premium coffee liqueur as part of its investment in Future Brands, a strategy that aims to support “the next big thing in the UK”.

Lebanon’s oldest winery has celebrated its 160th anniversary by going back to its roots and launching a 100% Merwah.

Drinks retailers are feeling bullish about their chances of thriving during the upcoming Christmas trading period, according to our reader survey.

Convenience retailers have a glorious opportunity to boost sales in the days between Christmas and New Year, according to a leading retailer. 

Oddbins is putting its faith in New World wines in the run-up to Christmas as it bids to offer its customers good value for money.

The Portman Group has issued a retailer bulletin urging the trade not to stock Flying Dog Brewery’s Easy IPA as it encourages immoderate drinking.

Premium bottled ale needs to innovate to avoid meeting the same fate as the tanking blended Scotch whisky category, according to a leading buyer.

The UK’s largest wine supplier is branching out into the gin category with the launch of Stone’s ginger gin.

Think RUM 2019

15 October, 2018

Tuesday, January 31st 2019

Foxhole Spirits has appointed Highball Brands as its exclusive UK distributor.

Glasgow is set to get its first rum distillery in more than 300 years.

A Kentucky-based distillery is bringing its bourbon and rye whiskey to the UK this month to tap into a growing consumer interest in American whiskey.

Lidl has made new tickets available for its premium pop-up gin bars after the original batch sold out within 24 hours.

Jeroboams has added its eighth retail shop to the group by adding wine merchant Prohibition Wines to the portfolio.

Bayou Rum is rebranding its Louisiana rums and adding to the portfolio, in order to tap into the thriving premium rum and craft spirit sectors.