Drinks Retailing has polled 20 independent retailers from across the UK to pinpoint trends in style and flavour across spirits, mixers and sparkling wine. Retailers also reveal their bestsellers and rising stars.
Single malt Scotch continues to reign in the world of whisky, with The Macallan receiving the most mentions from retailers. Glenfarclas, Tomatin and Glen Keith Scotch also received several acknowledgements.
Beyond single malt, Nomad blended whisky was a trending product for many retailers. The Scottish-made spirit is transported to Jerez in Spain where it is aged in barrels that formerly held Pedro Ximénez sherry.
Scotch whiskies aren’t the only products catching the attention of consumers, with the emergence of numerous English and Welsh distilleries in the past decade bringing a local angle to the category across many parts of the UK. Cotswolds’ Single Malt and Spirit of Yorkshire’s Filey Bay whisky both received mentions from retailers.
Beer may have pioneered the low/no alcohol category, but consumers are showing increasing interest in low/no spirits and wines, according to the retailers we spoke to. As consumer awareness of mindful drinking continues to grow, non-alcoholic spirits brands such as Pentire and Everleaf are seeing success in independent retailers. Pentire gained B Corp status earlier this year, giving it brownie points among environmentally-conscious consumers.
Ipswich-based Big Drop’s range of alcohol-free beers was one of the most popular low/no beverages across the board. Bristol Beer Factory’s Clear Head and Sussex-based Harvey’s Best Bitter Low Alcohol also received a number of mentions, as local products remain popular options for post-pandemic consumers.
Although low/no wine has not excelled to the same extent as beer and spirits, Torres’ Natureo de-alcoholised brand was noted as one of the bestselling and most trending low/no wines. With fewer calories than the average wine, Natureo is also vegan-friendly, a trend that many retailers are beginning to pick up on as drinkers are becoming more selective about what they are consuming.
Though lockdowns have been lifted, the home cocktail trend seems to be showing no signs of decline, with liqueur sales oriented towards home mixology. Maestro Café’s coffee liqueur and Kahlúa were noted among the most trending liqueurs among retailers, perhaps influenced by the popularity of Espresso Martinis.
Cartron triple sec, Cointreau and Passoa passion fruit liqueur also received mentions as Cosmopolitans and Pornstar Martinis continue to hold their place as some of the nation’s most-loved cocktails.
Bottega’s Pistacchio cream liqueur ranked the highest trending of all the liqueurs singled out by retailers. It was joined by Frejya’s Crema Custard – “the world’s first alcoholic custard”– and Mozart’s Gold in a clutch of dessert-inspired liqueurs that are catching the attention of consumers, reflecting the trend for sweet and nostalgic flavours in other spirits categories.
Classic fruit-based liqueurs such as crème de cassis – an essential ingredient in a Kir Royale – also remained on many retailers’ bestselling lists.
Champagne remains top of the pops for independent retailers, with brands such as Pol Roger, Bollinger and Laurent-Perrier taking the sales and trending top spots. Special cuvées and vintages are popular – with Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 2012 getting a few mentions – but NV remains big news, especially Pol Roger Brut Reserve and Bollinger Special Cuvée.
Prosecco’s popularity is undimmed, though the nature of the category means that no one brand stands out.English sparkling wine producers, including Bolney, Balfour and Hindleap, make the cut and there are whiffs of excitement around crémant and Lambrusco, though not so much love for cava.
Rosé gets several mentions in both Champagne – with Laurent-Perrier Rosé garnering the most votes – and the relatively new pink Prosecco category.
It was perhaps little surprise that Fever-Tree tonic was a hot topic of conversation among the retailers we spoke to. Since launching in the early 2000s, the brand has become a firm favourite with G&T drinkers, and has expanded its range to include flavoured soda and cola.
With Larkfire’s Wild Water for Whisky also making an appearance among the bestsellers, it seems that the consumer desire for premium extends well into the world of mixers. Fruit-infused mixers such as Three Cents Pink Grapefruit soda and Amalfi’s Lime Tonic also received mentions as drinkers look for ways to add a fruity twist to simple drinks.
Numerous mentions also went to big soft drink brands such as Coca-Cola and Schweppes, as the demand for classic and uncomplicated mixers remains strong.