Flavoured spirits expected to continue to prove popular.
AS a country with a famously sweet tooth, it’s probably no surprise that there seems to be a growing demand for flavoured spirits in the UK.
The sub-category – traditional spirits such as gin, vodka or rum infused with added flavouring – has been expanding for the past few years, with products including specialist flavoured spirits as well as flavoured variants of established brands.
The impact of the growing category was underlined in 2019 when figures showed the pink variant of gin giant Gordon’s was outselling the brand’s flagship London Dry gin. This year has seen further flavour innovation from Diageo in the form of a new flavoured vodka for Smirnoff.
And at the beginning of this year drinks company William Grant & Sons’ Trending 2021 report tipped flavoured spirits to be one of the best-performing drinks categories this year, having held up well throughout the unique year that was 2020.
“Consumers want increased choice and are more experimental than ever so variety of flavours from a category they enjoy is an obvious choice,” said Aly Bayne, head of spirits marketing at Loch Lomond Group.
“Flavoured gins also tend to be a tiny bit sweeter and more accessible than the parent spirit so it can make it a more accessible point to the category.
“They’re also great for mixing and cocktails which have seen a continued surge in popularity.”
That was echoed by Indy Anand, director of rum importer Skylark Spirits, who said that tastes in the UK “generally lean towards sweeter products”.
“The simple answer is that flavoured spirits are more palatable to the typical consumer,” said Anand.
“Added flavours are much easier to relate to and pick up when sampling.
“Notes in spirits that are more embedded, like those that come from fermentation or barrel aging are more entwined and can be harder to determine.”
Bayne, at Loch Lomond Group, said the company has noted “renewed interest in flavoured vodka” in recent months, and reckoned there are also “interesting things happening in rum”.
But the big innovations are likely to be in gin.
“In gin there’s probably still more growth and value for the on-trade within the premium flavoured gin category and some longer-term potential in some more floral, savoury and spice-led profiles as opposed to the berry and citrus that dominate just now,” said Bayne.
The continued evolution of flavoured spirits was also predicted by Dale McQueen, managing director of McQueen Gin.
“Premium flavoured spirits will continue to grow in popularity along with more choice and exciting use of botanicals,” said McQueen.
“Consumers will expect licensees to know the key tasting notes, perfect serves and how to mix up the perfect cocktail using the product.”
And Anand at Skylark Spirits advised licensees to “look for diversity” when choosing which flavoured spirits to stock.
“Consumers want something new, something exciting, especially after not being able to enjoy cocktails in bars and restaurants for so long during the pandemic,” said Anand.