Spicing up the festive season

Latest liqueur joins Boe portfolio – and there’s more to come

Bar

THE Stirling-based drinks firm behind Boe Scottish gin is adding some spice to the on-trade this Christmas with the launch of a new liqueur.

Described as a “perfect balance of the bittersweet taste of oranges blended with festive spices”, Boe Spiced Orange is a 20% ABV liqueur which can be served with a range of mixers, including ginger ale or ginger beer, or simply served over ice.

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For Boe gin owner VC2 Brands, the spiced orange liqueur is a natural next addition to the range, which comprises Boe Scottish Gin and Boe Violet Gin, as well as Peach & Hibiscus and Scottish Bramble liqueurs.

“Our Peach & Hibiscus and Scottish Bramble liqueurs are doing really well and we wanted to launch the next [liqueur] in time for Christmas,” said Carlo Valente, who heads up the company with fellow directors Andrew Richardson and Graham Coull.

“Speciality liqueurs are an important part of our business – and the [trade], offering versatility, big flavours with a lower ABV.

Boe Spiced Orange
Stirling-based VC2 Brands has bolstered its range of Boe gins and liqueurs with the new 20% ABV Spiced Orange Gin Liqueur

“Drinks flavoured with festive spices is what we think consumers want at this time of year and we can offer this with our new Spiced Orange Gin Liqueur; this gives bars the opportunity to offer festive drinks and give the consumer what they would expect at this time of year.”

The launch of the latest liqueur comes towards the end of what Valente said has been another busy year for VC2 Brands, which has been part of the small-batch gin category for over a decade.

As one of the first to launch a Scottish craft gin – Boe first appeared back in 2007 – the company witnessed the birth of the sector, and its subsequent growth into the burgeoning category it is today.

“When we first launched Boe in 2007, it was very early; the gin thing hadn’t happened,” said Valente.

“Eight years later we went from being the only small-batch gin to one of a hundred.

“I had always had an idea for a coloured gin. And I knew violets and gin would go well so I got to work.”

In the early part of 2016, VC2 invested in a still and the development of new gins and gin liqueurs got underway.

The results were Boe Violet Gin, which was launched alongside the Scottish Bramble and Peach & Hibiscus liqueurs and a rebranded Boe Scottish Gin, in January 2017.

And, according to Valente, the response since has been “incredible”.

“I had a hunch it would work but what I didn’t know was how well it would work; it’s taken us all by surprise,” he said.

“We’ve developed a few drinks but we’ve never seen anything like this. Our Violet Gin is selling more than premium vodka in some bars – I find that incredible.

“Gin is a great sector, and I think there’s still growth to come.”

There’s also more to come from VC2, which is working on a new gin to be launched next year.

For now, Valente is focused on the festive period, which he reckons brings opportunities for the trade.

Warmer drinks using spices and festive flavours like orange and cranberry should sell well.

“Christmas is a great opportunity for operators to get customers on board for the year ahead,” he added.

“Offering quality with a point of difference and good service is key.

“When it comes to gin, stock a good selection that offers variety and make sure they are served correctly with the right garnishes.

“Warmer drinks should be on offer with cocktails using spices and festive flavours, like orange and cranberry. The festive period is an opportunity to tap into [consumers’] more adventurous nature and, with a little imagination, create an opportunity to up-sell and generate more income and increase margins.

“And suggest food pairings; we would recommend Boe Scottish Gin and tonic garnished with a slice of orange with a starter like melon and Parma ham or pâté; our Scottish Bramble Gin Liqueur with ginger ale paired with duck or game; and our Spiced Orange Gin Liqueur straight over ice paired with Christmas pudding.”