The Spirit of Manchester Distillery turns attention to vodka and whisky

a row of vodka bottles with different coloured labels

The Spirit of Manchester Distillery is set to launch a range of vodkas, as the operator continues to diversify its portfolio. The company is also installing a whisky still, with the first casks expected to be laid down later this year.

Speaking to Drinks Retailing at Prowein, sales director Justin Horsman said the company had previously produced a vodka only for its bar, called Manchester Spirit. The producer will now roll out the original, along with three flavours: coffee, grapefruit and tonka bean. The vodkas will be available from June.

The launch follows similar moves by distillers who started primarily making gin, including Portobello and Mason’s.  Horsman said there is renewed interest in the category, with retailers giving vodka more space on their shelves.

“We asked ourselves ‘how can we create vodka that is interesting’, ‘how can we bring a new angle to the market’.” He said the company invested in a rotary evaporator, allowing for extraction of flavours at a lower temperature and pressure.

“We’ve utilised some good strong flavours that can be used in cocktails and are also really easy to understand for consumers,” he added.

The vodkas will carry an RSP of around £24.99, a price point Horsman described as “accessible”.

Horsman said renewed interest in vodka could be a result of the spirit’s ability to deliver flavour.

“With gin, you always want it to taste of juniper – that’s the main characteristic. With vodka, there are so many more playful ways that you can still retain the credibility of the spirit but provide a very easy to understand flavour. And I think that’s why vodka, in this new era, will work well.”

Horsman also said that the new wave of vodkas would attract new consumers as well as gin drinkers. “You’ll taste what you expect and that’s key.”

When it comes to flavour diversification, Horsman said he doesn’t expect to see the explosion of flavours the market saw earlier this century.

“I think we’ll see steady growth. Consumers have much greater access to information now, so they are educating themselves all the time.”

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