Must Stock 2020: The products on everyone’s lips

A look at some of the categories making waves in venues across Scotland


THE drinks market in Scotland has continued to evolve in 2019, and this is bound to continue through the new year and beyond.

The big names in each category – brands such as Tennent’s, Smirnoff, Bacardi and Famous Grouse – continue to account for huge volumes in the Scottish on-trade, with massive distribution and name-recognition that’s been built over decades. While these players account for the majority of sales in bars and pubs, however, the craft boom is having a significant impact on what customers are ordering at the bar.

According to CGA figures provided to SLTN in the summer, overall on-trade drinks sales grew by around £90 million between 2018 and 2019, to a value of £2.4 billion.

Lager remains the biggest drinks category by value – and has grown in the past year – with categories such as wine, vodka and cider also accounting for sizeable sales.

And in keeping with one of the big trends of the last few years, gin has had another monster performance in 2019, with new entrants and established names helping grow the category to a value of £159m (up from £97m last year).

In the following pages you will find an overview of some of the biggest drinks categories in the Scottish on-trade as we prepare to enter 2020.

Sales information has been drawn from the CGA figures submitted for this year’s Top Brands feature and there are also some category insights provided by drinks companies in the course of the year.

Ahead of the new year the picture appears to be ‘the same, but different’.

The drinks long associated with the on-trade – beer, wine and spirits – are still the cornerstone categories.

But within each of those areas things are changing. Consumers are said to be more knowledgeable about drinks than ever before, with many now willing to branch out and explore new and different brands and products when they’re in pubs, bars and restaurants.

Subsequently, licensees have consistently been advised to include at least a few craft or small-batch options on their drinks lists going forward.

And gin. Plenty of gin.

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