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Whisky: Christmas in a glass

18 September, 2019

We’re on the path to Christmas now so it’s a good time for retailers to revisit their whisky ranges. There has been a lot of noise about Irish whiskey and also some global options, including bourbon from the US. But will the popularity of these overshadow Scotch this festive season?

Retailers are gearing up for the crucial Christmas trading period after enduring a tough year blighted by poor weather, Brexit fears and plummeting consumer confidence. Like-for-like sales are down across most BWS categories in 2019 and Christmas represents the last bastion of hope for retailers aiming to record a strong profit.

Family success story

13 August, 2019

Last summer Fells pulled off a significant coup by taking on distribution for the Hill Smith family’s Negociants portfolio. Until that point, the likes of Yalumba, Oxford Landing and Vasse Felix had been distributed by Negociants UK, which the Hill Smith family decided to close. Fells hired eight members of the Negociants UK team and sold a 10% stake in its business to the Hill Smith family to cement the relationship. 

Building up Chianti

12 August, 2019

Chianti needs a bit of a revamp in the UK and the market is crying out for a strong brand, one which offers a range of Tuscan wines at different price points.

It’s now easy to find soft drinks that command higher prices and boast more natural ingredients than many alcoholic beverages, and it seems consumers are crying out for even more choice.

Tonic and mixer producers have done a stellar job of keeping up with the evolution of the premium spirits market and, in particular, gin. The category now has a number of premium players and

As glass bottles gradually fall out of favour with brewers, one specialist drinks retailer in north London has taken this format shift to heart. House of Cans, a tiny beer bar and off-licence, is pushing a can-only concept that it hopes will set it apart from more traditional craft beer bottle shops.

The word “botanical” neatly conjures up images of plant and herb extracts, all expertly blended to create a product with natural and authentic flavours. It’s a popular word nowadays, having shot to stardom after being adopted by various beverage categories including tea, soft drinks, juices and, of course, gin.

Michael Saunders was sitting at home, twiddling his thumbs and annoying his wife when Conviviality collapsed in spectacular fashion last year. He could only watch on from afar as his beloved Bibendum was pushed to the brink of extinction by a series of calamities at the parent group. Saunders was pleased to see C&C swoop in and save Bibendum PLB and Matthew Clark from the wreckage, preserving hundreds of jobs, but he was still acclimatising to life outside of the firm he joined in 1982.

Dariusz Plazewski and Ewelina Chruszczyk emigrated from Poland to London in 2003 and now, just a few years later, their much-talked-about Bimber Distillery is poised to launch one of London’s first single malt whiskies.

The rush to produce Instagram- friendly pink, colour-changing and fruit gins has been well- documented, but amid all the excitement, a kick-back against outlandish innovation has been slowly gathering pace among those who see proper gin as the route to long-term sustainability for the category.

Mike James is moving on after 10 years of heading up Aldi’s wine buying team. As he prepares to take on a new role at the retailer’s global wine team in Salzburg, Austria, he talks about the highlights of his career in the UK trade.

Producers of high-strength beer and cider need to step up to the mark and show their commitment to behaving resposibly, says Portman Group chief executive John Timothy:

Pride of England

22 May, 2019

If you take a leisurely drive through the English countryside – imagine, perhaps, a journey through some of the sleepy villages of Kent or Sussex – you would be hard pushed not to spot some vines growing somewhere in the distance.

Thatchers Rosé had a soft launch at the end of last year and it’s getting a much bigger push this summer, supported by a hefty cash injection.

Back in 1995 Brothers Cider started selling its pear offering at the Glastonbury Festival, and the popularity of its seasonal and flavoured variants quickly gave the company a green light to extend into retail.

It is a good time for retailers to focus on Scotch whisky.

Irish whiskey is a much talked about category at the moment and it’s easy to see why. In 2013 there were just four operational distilleries in Ireland but this has risen to 23, with the industry now supporting more than 350 jobs.

Cracking rosé

29 April, 2019

The New World has been steadily chipping away at the market share of traditional European wine- producing nations for several decades. But there’s one wine colour for which the Old World is

The clocks have gone forward, the sun is battling its way through the clouds and the season of barbecues, festivals and picnics is almost upon us. Drinks retailers are urged to stock up on RTDs to boost sales and margins ahead of this crucial trading period.

Chaos in the bottle shops

23 April, 2019

Specialist craft beer retailers have likened placing orders for the latest beers from certain big-name breweries to the scramble to secure Glastonbury tickets, amid concerns that parts of the wholesale market are becoming overheated.

Millions of British consumers are increasingly health conscious and inclined to opt for low-calorie drinks that do not pack a high alcoholic punch. Their purse strings are tight amid the economic uncertainty sparked by Brexit and many prefer to save money by entertaining at home. They want to impress their guests and, more importantly, their social media followers with drinks that look vibrant, luxurious and refreshing. Yet they do not want to fiddle around with a multitude of ingredients to whip up something Heston Blumenthal would be proud of. 

Independent retailers are bullish about their chances of flourishing after the news that Majestic is retreating from bricks-and-mortar drinks retailing. It said store closures are inevitable as it turns its focus more towards e-commerce, and finer detail on this new strategy will be announced in June.

Matt Gammell from Pickering's tells Sonya Hook how he unwittingly created the first exclusive gin distillery in Edinburgh in more than 150 years.

Vodka’s role as a key component of classic cocktails such as the Cosmopolitan and Moscow Mule must surely cement its position as a must-have on most retailers’ spirit shelves.

Ben Branson, the brains behind alcohol-free spirit Seedlip, has a clear vision of where the no- alcohol market is going.

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. 

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.

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