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Andy Cresswell has been tasked with ushering in a brave new era at Bestway Retail after a tumultuous couple of years for franchisees and staff.

The most exciting opportunity for the rum industry to grow UK sales lies in educating more consumers and trade professionals about the myriad wonders within the category. Too few people fully appreciate its breadth, depth and versatility at a huge range of price points. We therefore decided to make education the chief focus of our big debate at the fourth annual Think Rum event in London this month. 

The marketing messages around lager used to be very simple: it’s cold, it’s fizzy, it tastes relatively innocuous and it quenches your thirst on a hot day.

Tonic: Mixing up the flavours

18 February, 2019

Consumer thirst for unusual additions to boost their G&T has never been higher, reports Sonya Hook

Rhône-style wines are growing in popularity, with increased appeal to experimental winemakers and consumers across the globe. The classic grapes of the Rhône Valley – namely Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne and more – can create unique blends and the wines that are produced will vary from country to country.

An appearance on top TV show Dragon’s Den saw the owners of Didsbury gin gain a £75,000 investment. Martin Green catches up with the duo to see what the future holds

Bottle-conditioning gives beers bigger flavours and complex characters. A week of promotions aims to put them back on the map, reports Nigel Huddleston

DRN gets the lowdown on how wine branding has changed over the years from expert Abigail Barlow.

Craft spirits entrepreneur Michael Vachon has shrugged off the notion that the UK is on the brink of reaching peak gin. It has been the star performer in the spirits category for several years now and some have started to question whether its performance will peter out. “The UK is nowhere near peak gin,” Vachon says. “In fact, we are so far away from it that the peak isn’t even in sight.”

Austria’s public declaration in October that its 2018 vintage was “fully-ripened and bountiful” could equally be applied to the status of its recent sales success in the UK.

Yahya Egeh’s mother slipped him £20 on his 20th birthday and expected him to go out and celebrate in low-key fashion with a friend called Tallulah.

When Bill Sharp was faced with demand from north Cornwall publicans for a new beer from his fledgling Sharp’s Brewery he took

In the 14th century Cardinal Vital Du Four laid out the chief benefits associated with drinking Armagnac, the grape brandy produced in the Gascogne region.

The fast pace of innovation in the food industry is unrivalled by most other sectors. Over the past few years we have seen gluten-free rise from a handful of products to become a well-established and multi-million pound category, while other free-from sectors have also emerged. This year vegan products look set to take centre stage. Consumers are already flocking to stores with glee, happy to try out fishless fishfingers and dairy-free brownies, alongside Gregg’s much-publicised vegan sausage roll.

An age-old question in the drinks trade is whether tequila will ever be able to shed its negative image, although some in the industry would argue it is already well on the path of transformation from boisterous party drink to respectable spirit.

A group of wine producers and students gathered at the WSET’s London offices this month to learn from the team behind the successful I Heart brand.

Beaujolais: nouveau niche

20 November, 2018

The beleaguered winemakers of Beaujolais are celebrating after 2018 delivered the sort of vintage that can save many from biting the dust. Hail ravaged the region in 2016 and 2017 and some producers feared for their livelihoods as they headed into this year. But Mother Nature smiled on the area to the north of Lyon this year and superb conditions led to a large crop set to yield high-quality juice.

A movement called mindful drinking is gathering pace across the UK as Brits seek to moderate their alcohol consumption and lead healthier loves. A fifth of British adults are now teetotal, BWS column sales are in steady decline and mindful drinking festivals are springing up across the country. The drinks industry could see this as an impending disaster and decide to sell up shop and get into something like Bitcoin, cannabis, avocados or quinoa instead.

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.

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.

Is orange the new white?

10 September, 2018

With Aldi leading the charge, orange wines could be set for a baptism of fire in the UK, finds Sonya Hook

South Africa is perfectly poised to grow its presence across the board in the UK market, from convenience and the multiple retailers to fine dining establishments and independent wine merchants. Excitement among UK buyers is high due to the energy and passion coming out of South Africa, but compiling an effective range can be challenging. This guide will therefore help retailers put together an ideal ranging and merchandising plan and boost sales and margins.

Sir Ian 'Beefy' Botham is best known for his astonishing cricket career, but he's currently enjoying a run as a wine producer. He tells Martin Green he's hoping for a long innings in the game

Imagine you could buy the Mona Lisa for half price. Not the real thing, but a fake that could even fool the experts. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece would still be beyond most of our pockets. Now translate the idea across to wine. Say you could forge some of the world’s best wines, market them under your own label, avoid legal censure and knock them out to punters at a price they could afford. Why wouldn’t you?

Rum: the stuff of legend

20 July, 2018

Legend has it that Admiral Horatio Nelson’s body was put in a rum cask to preserve it for transportation back to England following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. He had just defied the odds to secure a decisive victory, constantly thwarting Napoleon and defeating a combined French and Spanish fleet, and he was due to receive a glorious open-casket funeral. But the navy officials who received his body discovered the sailors had drilled a hole in the cask and sucked it dry, leaving Nelson semi-pickled and unfit for an open casket.

Eric Idle once declared that American beer was like making love in a canoe – “fucking close to water”.

Over the past 12 months, the McGuigan wine brand has slipped quietly into the number three position in Nielsen’s stats for the UK off-trade, gliding past Blossom Hill. Echo Falls is within its sights, though overhauling market leader Hardys could still be some way off. Unusually for the chief executive of a public-listed company, in this case McGuigan brand owner Australian Vintage, coveting the top slot isn’t the number one priority, says Neil McGuigan. 

Drink is a compelling topic – for its friends, for its enemies and for all those in-between. And in August a new name will join those flapping around the flame. But Richard Piper isn’t saying what it is yet.

The team of wine advisors at fine wine investment company, Cult Wines, tells DRN what to look out for when it comes to seeking out wines that can increase in value:

Gaining the youth vote

15 June, 2018

The over-45 age group now accounts for more than three-quarters of BWS sales in the UK as younger adults increasingly turn their backs on alcohol. Kantar stats for the year to March show that 76.5% of volume sales go to the 45-plus demographic, with just 23.5% bought by younger adults. In the past year volume sales among 18 to 44-year-olds declined by 7.5%, while volume sales among the older generations grew 2.9%.