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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: spirits trends

Talking Christmas 2020 drinks trends with David Miles

David Miles is back once again to chat about Christmas and tell us what festive trends to look out for in this strangest of years… Last year we sat down…

David Miles is back once again to chat about Christmas and tell us what festive trends to look out for in this strangest of years…

Last year we sat down with David Miles, senior brand ambassador at Edrington Beam Suntory, so we could get the lowdown on what we should expect from the drinks industry at Christmas. Because this is a time of year of tradition and community, we decided to do it all again. After all, when you work with brands as notable as The Macallan, Bowmore, Courvosieur, Highland Park, Famous Grouse and more, you’re going to have your finger on the pulse. 

Discussing the impact of COVID on Christmas, how can people make the most of drinking at home, how brands will respond to a lack of physical shopping, which type of spirit will win the Christmas battle in 2020 and more, Miles has identified several trends to keep an eye out for and, once again, recommended a couple of festive serves.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Look, David Miles is back!

The trend: Bars and brands to embrace Christmas drinks at home

David says: “It’s an obvious trend but the biggest change we’ll see this year is that the usual culture around Christmas drinks will be happening at home. As people organise virtual cocktail parties or to see their family over Zoom their drinking habits will naturally have to adapt. It’s not what we would have wanted or expected, but it does mean we’ll see a lot of innovation and flexibility in Lockdown II from brands and bars. This time around it seems there’s a lot of bars who are far more prepared to deliver cocktails at home and are ready to hit the ground running. There’s also going to be brands and bartenders who are more prepared and experienced in putting together Facebook or Instagram masterclasses to take advantage of social media. You will see brands prioritising trying to get serve suggestions and ideas out there to the consumer”. 

The trend: People will opt for quality over quantity when purchasing gifts 

David says: “Consumers have been increasingly buying into the ‘I’ll drink less but drink better’ mindset and are also discovering all the time. One of the advantages of the great gin boom is that people who typically have only drunk one type of gin were suddenly trying different expressions, different brands and discovering a broader whole new world. It doesn’t take much for that to then tip over into other categories. We know that treating yourself, family and friends more are top 2021 New Year’s resolutions and I think there’s that feeling of ‘we’re going to have a Christmas somehow’. People are going to look back on this year and think ‘damn it, I’ve earned a treat’.

The trend: E-commerce and online retail to rule the roost 

David says: For all the brands the big switch in focus is going to be moving resources to make the most of online retail. To survive, brands need to make their products available as much as possible and to a large extent, this does seem to have happened. While the first lockdown was devastating for much of our industry, drinks companies comparatively speaking did all right because the great British public kept us going by purchasing booze from supermarkets and retailers like yourselves. The challenge for brands is how they present shelf appeal in an online space and ensure that they’ve got the means to give consumers the knowledge and the inspiration of what to do with their drinks at home.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Blended whiskies are great for cocktail making and this strength will serve them well this Christmas

The trend: Blended whisky will get some overdue appreciation   

David says: Single malt whisky is going to be a big one again thanks to the luxury aspect we talked about earlier, but the fact that people are increasingly embracing the fun mixability side of whisky and the increase of cocktail making at home means the more accessible blended malt category should get some overdue love too. 

The trend: Rum to enjoy the spoils of premiumisation

David says: With rum, there’s an ongoing question of ‘is rum the next gin?’, which has become a cliché, but there is so much interest in it. There are far more mainstream products emerging all the time, which does mean we’ll have to endure an influx of some slightly dodgy spiced rums, also that at the top end of the rum market there’s premium, aged expressions designed to rival whisky and brandy coming through in numbers. This is something that has developed over the last couple of years and is ongoing and this Christmas I think you’ll notice there’s a lot of people willing to splash out on quality rum.

The trend: Cognac to move back into the spotlight

David says: I wouldn’t be surprised if Cognac had something of a revival this year. We’ve been pushing Courvoisier a lot at the moment and the reception has been great. There’s a real drive to get Cognac back in the minds of the on-trade and to embrace its history as a key component in cocktails, which we saw over London Cocktail Month. I get the feeling that it’s about time that Cognac had its turn there.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Is Cognac primed for an overdue comeback?

The trend: Low-and-no alcohol will adapt to thrive

David says: There’s been a whole slew of low-and-no alcohol spirits launched in the last year and the big difference is that they’ve adapted to create ranges of zero-alcohol bottled cocktails which should prove very popular. It’s a reflection on the fact that even if people aren’t drinking they still want a treat, something that’s a little bit special. They’re not settling for another orange juice with soda water or something as the non-alcoholic option anymore.

The trend: English sparkling wine to make its mark

David says: Traditional drinks like mulled wine and a bit of bubbly will always have a role at Christmas, but a development that’s happening in this space is people swapping Champagne or prosecco for English sparkling wine. That category of really good quality sparkling wine, which champagne has always tried to keep to itself, is diversifying and opening up. Even though it’s not cheap, English sparkling wine is getting this great perception of having really good quality. People shopping for a special occasion and the association with festive fizz will serve the category well. 

The trend: Ethical and sustainable practices essential for brands to adopt

David says: A lot of brands are looking at how they can reduce their carbon footprint, how can they reduce the amount of glass they use, the amount of plastic. There’s been a bit of a kickback against premium spirits in ceramic bottles as you can’t recycle it. When I’ve been doing training sessions on peated whisky I will now always get a question about peat use and sustainability. Consumers are concerned about this and so brands are going to try to be more responsible. Both to tap into that consumer desire and for our own good as well. If our packaging weighs less it will cost us less. Our Maker’s Mark packaging would be a great example of that. It’s totally recyclable and designed to be a little herb pot once you’ve taken the bottle out of it so you can grow your mint for your own Mint Julep at home. Innovations like this will continue to take place and when consumers are purchasing presents they’ll demonstrate they favour those who are more mindful.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

The Salted Honey Old Fashioned

The cocktails:

The wonderful David Miles leaves us with a couple of delightful festive serves that can be made simply at home this Christmas:

Salted Honey Old Fashioned

Emphasising the salty, heather honey notes of the whisky, The Highland Park Salted Honey Old Fashioned is a simple but effective twist on a classic. To create, stir 50ml of Highland Park 12 Year Old – Viking Honour, 10ml of honey syrup (made using equal measures of honey and water), a dash of orange bitters, a dash of Angostura Bitters and a pinch of smoked sea salt in a mixing glass. Then strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice and garnish with an orange twist.  

Courvoisier Espresso Martini

Embrace how delightfully mixable Cognac is by adding 35ml of Courvoisier VSOP, 15ml of Galliano Ristretto, 30ml of cooled fresh espresso and 10ml of sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for 8 seconds and then fine strain into a Coupette glass filled with cubed ice and add three coffee beans to garnish.

Christmas 2020 drinks trends

Embrace the mixologist in you this Christmas!

Roku Winter Punch

For those who are able to safely entertain, a winter punch is the perfect serve. To make this gin-based delight, you want to brew 15ml of Roku Gin, 25ml of lemon juice, 25ml of honey (adjust to taste), 4 large pinches sencha green tea, 180ml hot water, two 10cm long grapefruit zest and 5mm of thick ginger cut julienne for 5 minutes in a preheated teapot. Serve in your chosen teacup.

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Christmas 2019 drinks trends with Edrington-Beam Suntory’s David Miles

The senior whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory joins us today to chat all things festive and fun in the world of drinks. What can we expect this Christmas in the…

The senior whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory joins us today to chat all things festive and fun in the world of drinks.

What can we expect this Christmas in the drinks industry? All kinds of merriment and mayhem are par for the course, but helping us to dig deeper and peek behind the curtain is David Miles. The former bar manager of 57 Jermyn Street, who also has experience setting up cocktail bars in Amsterdam, Mumbai, and Tel Aviv, is the senior whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory. As well as working with brands like The Macallan, Bowmore, Highland Park, Laphroaig, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Suntory, Miles’s role involves training, as well as predicting and interpreting trends in the drinks market.

Miles was generous enough to share some of that wisdom with us, even going as far to include a couple of serving suggestions to try out at home for those who want to keep things simple at this hectic time of year.

Christmas drinks trends

Say hello to David Miles!

The trend: an increase in demand for premium products

David says: “More and more the drinks industry is encouraging people to drink better rather than drink more. That’s a trend that will carry over into Christmas. It’s more profitable for brands if people drink more premium products so they are creating more premium products in the last few years and consumers are responding to this. It’s reflected in trends like the craft beer and gin booms, it’s reflected in the kind of glassware people use, it’s something you can see even in the rise of premium mixers. If you spoke to someone five years ago and said there would be six or seven tonics in a pub you’d get laughed out of town, but this is how the whole drinking experience has moved. Premiumisation is up across the board, it’s all about the drinking experience being as good as possible. At Christmas, this trend is amplified”.

The trend: a revamping of traditional Christmas drinks

David says: “Bartenders are using traditional drinks as a starting point now. We’re seeing more drinks emerge like the Spiced Negroni, where people are taking the spices they would have traditionally used for mulled wine, like cloves and star anise, and instead are infusing it with gin. That traditional Christmas flavour is being as a launchpad to create more interesting, experimental serves. Warm serves are also being modernised, so instead of mulled wine, people are beginning to favour things like Hot Toddys, which bartenders are reworking and reimagining. Maybe they’ll make one with rum or Cognac, but ultimately what they’re doing is opening up the possibilities for interesting flavours and unusual flavours to stand out from the crown a little bit”.

Christmas drinks trends

People are experimenting with traditional festive favourites like mulled wine

The trend: rum enjoying more of the spotlight

David says: “Building on the back of an explosion with gin, you can see a huge growth in the consumption of premium rum and the number of rums a bar offers. How rum is being drunk has shifted with serves like Rum Old Fashioneds, which showcase rum in a different light and demonstrate its increasing premium perception. It’s one of those options that consumers wouldn’t have gone for a few years ago but is now becoming more commonplace. There’s some great rum out there produced with true love and care and it’s good to see it be respected and treated like the great spirit that it is alongside the more traditional Christmas spirits”.  

The trend: whisky becoming more playful

David says: “The culture that you can only enjoy single malt with a little drop of water or neat is one that’s being challenged all the time. At this time of year, you’ll see it increasingly reflected in cocktail lists, where single malts are being used so much more and with real creativity and imagination. It makes whisky cocktails so attractive, which has the effect of enticing people who would usually shy away from whisky”.

Christmas drinks trends

Having fun with your go-to dram is an easy way to improve your Christmas spirit

The trend: the rise of low-to-no ABV

David says: “Low-to-no ABV drinks are going to be part of the story this Christmas. There are already success stories you can point to, look at the work Seedlip has done and its ‘NOgroni’. We think of this time of year as being one of indulgence, but if you’ve got a glut of Christmas parties and yet another night where you’re not quite as enthused as other people, then that sort of offering where you can temper how much you drink over the festive period will be in demand”.

The trend: increased investment in aesthetic

David says: “This is more of an off-trade trend, but having a standout appeal on a supermarket shelf or online really matters at this time of year. Brands will spend a lot of time and money trying to get it right. If you look at The Macallan, for example, the packaging is already so beautiful you almost wouldn’t want to wrap it. Across the board, this is really important, as statistics suggest that around a quarter of the drinks industry’s profits come at this time of year”. 

The trend: pubs and bars becoming more spirit-forward

David says: “Pubs and bars will be increasingly encouraging people to go for more spirit and mixers. Back bar displays are becoming more spirit-focused to encourage consumers to step that way. Spirits are vastly more profitable to any bar than a pint of lager or a glass of Pinot Grigio. You’ll see more and more at this time of year that there will be cocktail menus and drinks lists on the bar and on tables available to people that will have a written offering of all the different gins and tonics they serve, for example. You wouldn’t have seen as much of that a few years ago”.

Christmas drinks trends

Pubs and bars will get into the Christmas spirit in more ways than one!

Before we let Miles get back to being all senior and specialist in all things whisky, we asked him to suggest some cocktails that can be made simply at home this Christmas:

The White Lady/G&Tea

David says: “Classic gin cocktails will do well this Christmas. One to try would be The White Lady. It’s a three-ingredient cocktail (gin, triple sec and lemon juice) that you put the same amount of each in (25ml each, although you can double the gin measurement if you’re feeling frisky), so it’s super easy to make at home and it always got a great reception from the people I’ve served it to! Innovating around a Gin & Tonic is great as well. Swapping out half your measurement of tonic and replacing it with cold green or jasmine tea is a very interesting twist which is not hard to pull off. The same goes for substituting half of the tonic with soda. This dilutes the tonic side of the drink so you can notice more of the flavours from the botanicals”.

Christmas drinks trends

Simple but delicious serves like The Old Fashioned are an easy way to improve your Christmas drinks game

The Old Fashioned

David says: “It’s such a bartender’s drink, but it’s one you can make really easily at home. You don’t need sugar syrup, everyone has got sugar at home. Anybody who makes Champagne cocktails will have Angostura bitters, if not they’re available from every supermarket. We don’t need to go down the road of spending 10 minutes crafting the perfect serve, because, for the most part, it’s unnecessary. Stir down in a rocks glass, at home, with some premium whisky. It will improve the pleasure of your Christmas!”

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Our take on booze trends for 2019!

New year, new drinks. Here’s what we reckon we’ll be debating, writing about and, most importantly, sipping in 2019. Tasting glasses at the ready… There’s nothing we enjoy more here…

New year, new drinks. Here’s what we reckon we’ll be debating, writing about and, most importantly, sipping in 2019. Tasting glasses at the ready…

There’s nothing we enjoy more here at MoM Towers than a good old chinwag about delectable spirits. And with the earth completing another full circuit round the sun, what better excuse to surmise, debate and generally theorise about the state of booze in 2019? Read on for the lowdown on ten drinks trends we think will influence what and how we consume in the coming 12 months. Enjoy!

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The past, present and future of alcohol-free imbibing

Whether you’re one of the millions of people attempting Dry January or you’re simply looking to scale back on the sauce this year, the age-old ‘what to drink when you’re…

Whether you’re one of the millions of people attempting Dry January or you’re simply looking to scale back on the sauce this year, the age-old ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’ issue has never been so easily remedied. We take a look at the fast-growing alcohol-free drinks category…

There was a time where a sober night out would translate to an icy pint of Coke (from the gun) with a couple of lemon slices thrown in. You’d manage two, three at best – and as far as subtlety was concerned, it was like carrying a bald eagle with lasers for eyes that screeched ‘NOT DRINKING TONIGHT’ at every person you encountered.

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Summer spirits trends? Agave and Asian spirits top the charts

We take a look at 2017’s hottest summer spirits trends – based on what you’re drinking right now. With the sun presumably shining, what better way to toast the long…

We take a look at 2017’s hottest summer spirits trends – based on what you’re drinking right now.

With the sun presumably shining, what better way to toast the long summer days than with a top tipple? Whether it’s holiday serves or sippers, a little liquid indulgence goes a long way to add to that sunny feel-good factor. And you, our wonderful customers, clearly agree. We shipped 60% more spirits bottles this June and July than during the same two months in 2016 – which means more of you than ever enjoyed a summer drink from Master of Malt.

But it’s not all kicking back with a cocktail. We’ve spotted that you’re a savvy bunch indeed, with your seasonal sipping choices well ahead of the curve when it comes to summer spirits trends. And this is especially true when it comes to agave-based drinks and Asian spirits.

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