The English Drinks Company has launched Cucumber Gin, described as a smooth aromatic gin with a subtle cucumber infusion.

The Co-op is set to add its first English wines, including a sparkling option and an own-label still white wine.

Spar’s 12 Deals of Christmas promotion is returning again for 2016, supported by a raft of marketing activities.

South African producer Distell has identified the UK as a key region for growth and is expanding its British team, setting up a new head office in Richmond and bringing all its brand distribution in house.

Halewood Wines & Spirits has bolstered its rum portfolio by taking on the Rum Sixty Six brand.

More than 200 Bargain Booze and Wine Rack franchisees have seen their loyalty rewarded with shares in the business.

Diageo has unveiled a Winter Edition bottle for its luxury blended Scotch whisky, Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

Porter is off to Amsterdam

Heineken’s UK off-trade sales managing director has been promoted to head up the business’ European off-trade division and will be replaced by Simon Amor.

Diageo Reserve Brands has unveiled a new mango addition to its premium vodka brand Cîroc.

English sparkling wine producer Chapel Down has grown sales by 26% in the past year, according to its interim results.

Sud de France will be holding its annual Rising Stars Tasting on 20 October to showcase the best wines that are currently being made in the region but are as yet unavailable in the UK market.

Three Ships Whisky is enhancing its South African roots by releasing a Pinotage finish whisky.

Whyte & Mackay has unveiled a single malt scotch whisky to celebrate their Tamnavulin distillery’s 50th anniversary.

Pernod Ricard has launched a peated single malt whisky from Orkney called Scapa Glansa into the specialist retailer trade.

A gin described as ‘the world’s first social enterprise gin’ has been launched by an Edinburgh distillery.

Ginraw, a gin produced in Barcelona, is on its way over to woo the UK’s off-trade.

Harrods is axeing the fine wine and spirits department it unveiled in 2013 and replacing it with a 225-seat restaurant.

Aldi has teamed up with Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey to launch its first English sparkling wine.

Brockmans gin has secured its first national grocery listing as Marks & Spencer decided to stock the brand from this week in 134 of its stores.

The producers of Pinkster gin have released a fruit gin liqueur made with Suffolk quince and wild bullace foraged from the hedgerows of East Anglia. 

Aldi is set to shake up the wine category with a new craft wine range, designed to attract millennials by using cues normally associated with craft beer or artisan spirits.

A canned beer has earned Camra’s accreditation for “real ale” for the first time ever.

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) has launched an English Wine Trail in a bid to boost drinks tourism and celebrate the nation’s grape growing excellence.

Morrisons is giving students 10% off beer, wine, spirits and food in a bid to improve its sales and claw back market share.

Les Grands Chais de France has expanded its empire with the purchase of Bejot Vins et Terroirs, which owns 520ha of vines across some of France’s most prestigious appellations.

A successful summer drinks festival event saw BWS sales grow faster than any other category at Tesco and was the driving force behind the retailer’s best performance in two years.

A poor performance from Majestic’s B2B arm and from Naked Wines USA has led to the group delivering worse than expected profits, a trading update has revealed.

Australia is in the doldrums after slumping to its worst Olympics performance in decades and finishing 10th in the medals table.

E&J Gallo Winery is extending out of its Californian roots by introducing a new Prosecco to the UK market, with the aim of tapping into the nation’s thriving sparkling wine sector.

Waitrose will be expanding its ‘try before you buy’ strategy by investing in more wine bars within its stores.

Alcohol brands can be a force for good in the sporting world by supporting with sponsorships and the health lobby will struggle to ban this practice, according to the chairman of the National Association of Cidermakers.

The Licensing Act 2003 could be improved but overall it is “a good bit of legislation”, according to key off-trade representatives who gathered together in Parliament this month to discuss the Act. 

A former government trade minister has urged BWS suppliers and retailers to forge alliances with “influential producers, businesses and trade bodies” across the EU in a bid to secure the best outcome on free trade after Brexit.

Local authorities are no longer making a big noise about new Reducing the Strength schemes but at ground level retailers are still being subjected to requests for conditions on their licenses, according to an expert.  

An Oddbins buyer is one of 13 wine gurus to have secured the revered Master of Wine title this year.

UK craft beers are already on a par with their US counterparts despite their late start, according to a brewer who has swapped Oregon for Berkshire.

The English wine industry’s biggest challenge is protecting quality and maintaining high standards as newcomers jump on the bandwagon, says a top producer. 

Tesco has said its work this year in simplifying its own brand wines has been a success and it will continue to be a key focus area in BWS.

Mateus is set it to be the next retro brand to recapture the hearts of the British public after reporting encouraging sales figures over the past year, according to distributor Sogrape.  

Ardbeg has released its latest Limited Edition whisky, a 21 year-old single malt.

Under Age Sales, the Stockport-based social enterprise, has established a new partnership with Retail Guardian, a software system which aids retailers in the clampdown on sales of age restricted products.

Dan Jago, chief executive of Berry Bros & Rudd, has taken on the role of chairman of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

Rekorderlig Cider is gearing up for winter with the launch of Rekorderlig Spiced Plum.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths is stepping down as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group following his appointment as a member of the Government Whips’ Office. 

Heineken has splashed the cash to recruit Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho for a new TV ad to coincide with the new 2016/17 season.

Barwell & Jones it to be the exclusive UK agent for one of Rioja’s oldest and largest wine houses, Marques de Riscal.

Carlsberg UK is partnering with Brooklyn Brewery to distribute Brooklyn’s beers in the UK.

Westons is bringing out a collection of canned craft ciders for the off-trade market.

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The shops that stand out from the madding crowd

The judges met last week to sort out the winners in the independent categories of our 2018 Drinks Retailing Awards. The results are top secret until the awards dinner on February 6 but it’s giving nothing away to report that the overall standard of those that will be revealed in the shortlist of finalists in the January issue of DRN is higher than it’s ever been.

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