Champion local heroes

Whisky on a beach


The spirits of Alba can star for nation’s bars

THE boom in Scottish spirits production – whether it is whisky, gin or rum – has been good news for operators and consumers alike.

However, with new Scottish expressions hitting what is an already crowded market, deciding which variants to stock can be a daunting task for licensees.

To simplify the decision-making process, operators should look to the spirits made not far from their venues as well as know their clientele’s tastes, spirits firms told SLTN.

“Keeping it local is one of the best ways to narrow down a potentially large drinks list,” said Stirling Gin’s distillery manager, Lara Williams.

“Customers will appreciate seeing products from their surrounding area, particularly if it is a local-filled pub or bar, and as long as variety of styles is represented within this demographic then visitors will be kept happy.”

Stuart Fritz, marketing director for distributor Mangrove, which counts Aberdeenshire-based rum brand Dark Matter within its portfolio, agreed.

“Consumers and bar outlets tend to recognise and support their local produce,” he said.
“Local provenance has always been a powerful driving force in most industries – gain the support of your local customer to lend credibility to its export.”

David Smillie, Scotland portfolio manager at Maverick Drinks, reckons that dialogue with increasingly well-informed customers can help enlighten a licensee’s decision on what to stock.

He said: “Listen to your guests. They are very knowledgeable these days and will verbally request brands and bottlings.

“Start small and ensure your teams are familiar with these new products.

“Throwing 20 new bottles on a bar is a significant investment, even if it is a reaction to a trend.

“Ensuring it moves is key to success.”

When it comes to how to serve Scotch whisky-based drinks in venues, the simple Highball serve was advocated by Teddy Joseph, whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory, distributor of The Famous Grouse and Highland Park.

He said: “Serves such as the Highball are becoming an increasingly popular staple on cocktail menus – especially during the summer months, when we see an increased demand for lighter, refreshing serves.”

Georgie Bell, global malts ambassador for Bacardi, owner of Highland single malt Aberfeldy, reinforced that stance.

She said: “We’re currently living through the second golden age of cocktails, and the one for Scotch whisky that’s really leading this is the Highball.”

Joanne Motion, UK customer marketing manager at Ian Mcleod Distillers, owner of Edinburgh Gin, stated that “with so many gins increasingly jostling for shelf space, it can be challenging for consumers to differentiate at-a-glance”.

To combat this, she advised operators to offer “a robust gin and tonic or gin cocktail menu”.