Amber Beverage UK has its sights set squarely on the Scottish on-trade


AMBER Beverage Group, based in Luxembourg, is a brand owner and distributor which made a significant move into the UK market in 2017 when it bought a stake in drinks distributor Cellar Trends.

Two years later it bought the company outright, following that up in 2020 with the acquisition of another distributor, Indie Brands. 

The British arm of the business, Amber Beverage UK, now has its sights set squarely on the Scottish on-trade as it looks to grow the presence of its fully-owned and third party brands in Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants. 

Here, Scotland sales manager Grant Cunningham answers some questions on the company’s plans for the coming months. 

Grant Cunningham Scotland Sales Manager, ABUK

Can you give me an overview of Amber Beverage UK and the team members who deal with Scotland?

Amber Beverage UK currently employs 60 people based across the UK. I am the sales director for Scotland across both Amber Beverage UK and Indie Brands, with a total of 33 years in the industry. My key customer base is across key accounts, independent retail and wholesale. Three members of my team cover Glasgow and the west coast, and two of them cover Edinburgh and the east.

How big is your footprint in the Scottish on-trade, currently, and what are the key brands you will be focusing on in Scotland this summer?

We have a strong presence in the Scottish on-trade and work with all major independent hospitality groups in the country and the independent on-trade. 

We are trusted by the Scottish on-trade and are proud to work with companies such as Signature Pub Co and Scotsman Hospitality Group.

For summer this year, we will be launching BLACK 1752 in Scotland, which is a new spiced rum, blended with herbs, dark Caribbean rum, orange, and vanilla, and laced with a mix of spices. 

As a summer serve, we will be focusing on shots or as a key ingredient in contemporary cocktails; this is one of Amber Beverage Group’s own brands.

In addition, we see a huge opportunity for our third-party brands, Finest Call purées and cocktail mixes and Arran Whisky.

What makes the Amber Beverage UK portfolio well suited to the Scottish market? Why are your products a good match for Scotland’s bar and pub customers?

We find that Scottish consumers are particularly receptive to premium spirits expressions. Possibly this is because of the strong whisky heritage, which has given consumers a strong understanding of, and appreciation for, provenance-driven, artisanal spirits. 

This makes Scotland a high-potential market to launch new brands or new expressions. 

Historically, we have found both the trade and consumers alike engage very positively with new tequila expressions in the Amber Beverage UK portfolio.

What are the main challenges in the Scottish market?

Post-COVID the industry has seen significant changes and redistribution of volume across categories and channels compounded by energy price rises and that has put pressure on casual dining and casual wet-led venues. However, there is enormous opportunity in the premium end of the market, and in hospitality and events. 

Strategically, Amber Beverage UK is well-positioned with a portfolio geared towards premium expressions in each category.

What do you expect to be the big drinks trends in the UK on-trade in summer 2023 and beyond?

2023 could well be the year that agave goes mainstream. 

There are so many high-quality tequilas and mezcals in the ABUK portfolio to explore across all price points: at the top end, including the terroir-driven vintage expressions of Fortaleza; rapidly-growing Rooster Rojo Tequila, made from 100% blue weber agave, with a smooth flavour profile that immediately conjures up better days in better climes. 

The UK on-trade has already responded positively to the Finest Call Margarita mixer and the forthcoming launch of their slushie machine.

Do you have any particular on-trade marketing/promotional activity lined up in Scotland in the coming months?

We do have planned activities in Scotland, starting with the Re’al Roadshow at Lulu’s Bar in Edinburgh on Monday, 17th April where we will have five signature cocktails to taste, developed by Georgie Radev, co-founder behind the cult bar, Laki Kane. 

In addition to the launch of BLACK 1752, we will be launching Rooster Rojo Mezcal in early summer. 

Scotland has been receptive to this brand and we are looking forward to driving promotional activity for Rooster Rojo Tequila. 

Our global brand ambassador, who toured Scotland last autumn, has already visited Scotland this year.

And we recently gained our first listing for Moskovskaya Vodka across Scotsman Hospitality Group.