Diageo has reported that it grew market share in the UK off-trade and on-trade in the past year, largely thanks to the strength of Baileys, Guinness and Gordon’s.

Amazon finished top of the pile as retailers completed a clean sweep in a survey designed to find the UK’s top brands for customer service.

The researcher responsible for a Guardian front page suggesting a soaring alcohol misuse epidemic could kill 63,000 people said the real headline should have been: “slow news day produces unexpected headlines”.

Commentator Steve Topple has ripped into “fundamentally flawed” research suggesting alcohol abuse will kill 63,000 people in the next five years if punitive measures are not slapped on alcohol.

Fine wine merchant BI Wine said British clients are undeterred by the weak sterling rate after reporting its most successful en primer campaign in seven years.

The UK auction market for single malt Scotch malt whisky has enjoyed a record breaking three months, with sales surpassing £6 million between April and June.

Online drinks retailer 31Dover.com has appointed former Naked Wines sales and marketing director James Bagley as its new chief executive.

A prolonged summer heatwave sparked 19% growth in cider sales and a 17% rise in sparkling wine sales in the grocery channel this summer.

The public health lobby has called for off-licence hours to be cut to 10am-10pm, the reintroduction of the duty escalator, minimum unit pricing of 50p and tighter regulations on alcohol advertising.

Outspoken Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin will join Lord Price, the Minister of State for International Trade, on stage at the annual WSTA Conference.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland has slammed a “deeply flawed and misleading” survey used by the Alcohol Health Alliance to argue for reduced advertising of alcohol.

Wimbledon Brewery has created a special lager for local football side AFC Wimbledon to mark the joint heritage of the two institutions.

Britain is veering towards a situation where guidelines will state that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, a leading commentator has warned.

Buzzing Abruzzo

17 July, 2017

Abruzzo is a spectacular region full of picture- perfect villages and Roman remains nestled amid dramatic, mountainous scenery, but it remains something of a hidden gem for tourists. The resulting lack of foreign influence means it offers a window to an Italian lifestyle that has not changed for centuries.

Virtual reality is changing the world, from reducing errors made during surgery to bringing schoolbooks to life and enabling us to browse shops from the comfort of our own homes. It is an exciting bandwagon full of tech firms, rollercoaster designers, casino operators, neurosurgeons and Hollywood execs.

In 1973 New Zealand was selling almost 100% of its dairy products to the UK and had been doing so for a century. Then it received a call to say the market was closed because Britain had joined the EU, and it had to embark on the long and strenuous process of forging new trade deals with countries across the world.

The new chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group used his acceptance speech to signal a desire to fight the temperance lobby and push for a fair deal on duty.

To the south of Mongolia lies the landlocked region of Ningxia, which has a similar altitude to the peak of Ben Nevis and enjoys 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is on a drive to increase the trade’s knowledge of the burgeoning spirits category by overhauling its courses and trying to boost student numbers. 

Aldi has launched a £3.99 sake from Nada-ku and says it costs 28 times less than a comparable sized bottle at renowned London restaurant Nobu.

DrinksFest, the new consumer show geared towards Generation X and Millennial consumers, has landed Amazon as a sponsor for the inaugural event.

Hogs Back has launched a new design for its flagship Traditional English Ale (TEA) in a bid to pare down a cleaner and more modern look.

One of the UK’s oldest gin producing families has released an eponymous brand to celebrate 200 years of distilling.

Yalumba is once again sponsoring the World of Music, Arts and Dance festival in Wiltshire this summer, offering festivalgoers a wide range of award-winning wines.

Retailers are invited to Wine Australia UK’s largest free-pour tasting of the year, which takes place at Australia House in London on June 28.

Tim Stanley-Clarke enjoying jolly japes with Allan Cheesman

Tributes are pouring in for pre-eminent port consultant Tim Stanley-Clarke after he sadly passed away.

Andrew Shaw and Philip Tuck MW will lead a peloton of riders for a charity cycle in memory of the late Treasury Wines Estates managing director Dan Townsend.

Brands need provenance to survive in the modern cider category: those that can demonstrate a strong back- story and sense of place are thriving and those that cannot are falling by the wayside. British consumers are becoming more discerning about the products they are purchasing and are looking for genuine imports and local, independent producers, and that is a strong factor in Kopparberg’s success. It might not be a brand many in the UK immediately associate with heritage and provenance, but it has a back- story to rival any drinks brand on the market.

Award-winning independent beer merchant Real Ale is opening a second shop in northwest London to build on the success of its flagship Twickenham store.

Sainsbury’s has seen gin sales grow 25% year-on-year and has bolstered its range with three new lines to capitalise on the trend.

Borough Wines and Beers opened its doors yesterday for the first time since London’s Borough Market was hit by an act of terrorism that appalled the country.

Majestic has reported 5.7% like-for-like sales growth in its retail outlets and chief executive Rowan Gormley declared the business is now “past the tipping point”.

Sainsbury’s has bolstered its craft beer and cider offering across its Northern Ireland estate by introducing 28 new lines from a range of small producers.

JF Hillebrand is expanding its UK business. The ultimate logistics partner works with retailers to fine wine merchants regardless of their size or logistical requirement.

Whisky: Held in honour

08 June, 2017

Mark Angus, retail sales manager of whisky distributor Gordon & MacPhail’s shop in Elgin, has just been made a Keeper of the Quaich in honour of his special commitment to the Scotch whisky industry.

Innovation in wine

08 June, 2017

The London Wine Fair has shrunk somewhat in recent years – partly a reflection of consolidation in the market. Companies such as PLB and Bottle Green, which previously hawked their wares from some of the largest stands, are among the firms that have been swallowed up.

I Heart Feels the Love

08 June, 2017

Copestick Murray’s I Heart range has taken the market by storm since its launch in 2011 and annual retail sales have now broken through the £45 million barrier (Nielsen). It has surged into the UK’s top 20 wine brands and has the bestselling Prosecco and Pinot Grigio in impulse.

Italian Renaissance

08 June, 2017

Prosecco has enjoyed a remarkable rise towards ubiquity in recent times, thanks to its uncomplicated taste and its status as an affordable luxury. “I’ll be there in a Prosecco,” laugh Brits to one another. “My superpower is making Prosecco disappear. It’s a classy and elegant drink. Two pints of Prosecco, please.”

Yalumba has blended Coonawarra Cabernet with Barossa Shiraz to create a £225 “super claret” designed to honour its rich history and experimental nature.

DRN, Origin Wines and Electric Sky Wines took over One Belgravia in the capital for a glittering party after day two of the London Wine Fair. 

The wine trade can be the poster boy for international trade relations after Britain leaves the EU, according to the outgoing director of the London Wine Fair.

Asda has hit headlines of late for selling a huge amount of £10 Champagne, offering three slabs of lager for £20 and stocking six bottles of branded wine for £24. It has consistently offered the most competitive prices on spirits and recently raised eyebrows when it unveiled a £5 fizz called Progrigio.

Aldi has launched an in-store craft beer festival that has seen it bolster its range with 16 brews from across the UK.

Dom Pérignon has released its vintage 2009 cuvée and chef de cave Richard Geoffroy is raving about its quality.

Kopparberg has extended its fruit cider range with the launch of a Blueberry & Lime variant.

Blossom Hill has launched an on-pack promotion offering consumers the chance to win discounts on bestselling make-up brands like Rimmel and Clinique.

UK agents that shun the London Wine Fair deserve to be questioned by the brands they represent about a missed opportunity, according to Patrick McGrath MW.

Berry Bros & Rudd is opening a new retail store opposite St James’s Palace as it aims to position itself as “a one-of-a-kind destination for wine and spirits in the heart of London”.

Soaring sales of lager, ale, gin and sparkling wine have helped the off-trade BWS market grow by 2.3% to £16.1 billion in the past year (Nielsen, year to April 22, 2017).

Botanical Radical

17 July, 2017

The UK gin category has enjoyed astronomical growth in the past few years, driven by innovative brands that have pushed the boundaries around taste, price and serve. One of its biggest success stories is Brockmans, which caused a stir when it was launched in 2009.

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COMMENT

Reasons to be cheerful

I would like to think my outlook on things is generally optimistic. Perhaps that’s a natural consequence of working with something designed to give pleasure. But recently it has become increasingly difficult to ignore a creeping sense of negativity pervading the British wine trade.

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