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This monthly summary highlights the most interesting product launches in October, with a focus on the direction the alcoholic drinks industry is taking in terms of innovative developments.
As the spirits industry’s busiest time of the year fast approaches and will soon be upon the Northern hemisphere in a crescendo of frosty nights and yuletide shenanigans, mulled, spiced and hot concoctions steal the scant limelight from the bars’ original protagonists. They provide comfort and a warm blanket of tradition in the place of refreshing summer offerings and they can be as invigorating for the drinkers as for the industry itself.
While certain categories such as whiskies or liqueurs face no shortage of occasions and servings allowing them to capitalise on seasonal festivities and plunging temperatures, the emotional proliferation of regional specialties such as mulled wine or the hot toddy underlines their lasting relevance.
On-trade venues have historically appropriated their menus to include such ubiquitous winter warmers. However, key spirits players have largely missed the opportunity to provide branded alternatives, a gap that we first succinctly highlighted in the NPD update of October 2013, alongside our assertion that the freshly launched Winter Jack was a belated move in the right direction: ‘’ Hot alcoholic drinks is a niche that tends to be constrained within the realms of stuffy tradition and medicinal folklore… Winter Jack does fit perfectly with Jack’s daring, rebellious and confrontational brand message and, being positioned as a liqueur, it escapes the controversy of bastardising the flagship brand’s historic bourbon credentials. Adding cider to the concoction at a time when the US is passionately rediscovering the segment is simply a stroke of perfectly timed genius.’’
And so it was. One year on Winter Jack’s value sales are totalling over £1m according to producer Brown Forman and the industry appears to be finally focusing on the potential of this blind spot. Now it is time for one of the most iconic liqueur brands Drambuie – recently acquired by William Grant– is joining the hot spirits fray through a revisit of the hot toddy, a perennial favourite across the UK.
It will not be enough to reverse the flagship brand’s lingering maturity but it will provide the warm glow of its halo effect at a time that the liqueur category is going through an effective renaissance. Its time to turn up the heat.
Drambuie Hot Apple Toddy is a blend of Drambuie and apple juice designed to be heated up and mixed with a cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon. The 8% variant will cost GBP9.99 (US$16) per 70cl bottle and will originally be a UK exclusive.