Don’t overlook Scotland’s homegrown drinks products

Scottish produce has a reputation all over the world and that’s just as true of our drinks products – whether it’s beer, single malt or one of the growing number of other quality spirits produced north of the border – as it is for the country’s seafood, beef or lamb.

And with customers said to be looking for quality, as well as to support homegrown brands and businesses, there might be no better time to look at stocking some Scottish beers and spirits.

“Quality, provenance, compatibility; consumers continue to look for new experiences, often trading up from mainstream to small-batch, handcrafted products they know deliver on quality,” said Kirsten Blackburn of The Borders Distillery.  

“Operators should be looking at the vibrant independent scene on their doorstep and supporting local in addition to the more established, recognisable brands. 

“Of course, there needs to be compatibility between the offering and the customer base.”

Steven Sturgeon of Belhaven said that locality ‘is a big driver for Scottish consumers’ in 2023 and ‘should definitely be considered within the range’.

However, like Blackburn, he stressed the importance of putting together the right range of products for the right venue.

“Choosing the right beers is down to the type of consumer visiting that outlet and whether they are looking to discover new beers or stick with tried and tested favourites,” said Sturgeon. 

And quality of serve is just as important as quality of product, he said. 

“From the range on the bar, to the quality of the beer, to the way it is served, it all adds to the experience of the visit and is an important element of the customer’s journey,” he said.  

“Ensuring glass cleaning and cellar management are at their highest standards are key to making sure every pint that is presented to the guest is a quality beer.”

That chimed with comments from Crawford Sinclair, commercial director at Innis & Gunn, who said beer should be ‘served at the right temperature, in the right glassware, (with) the perfect pour and the surrounding point of sale to support the experience’. 

“The presentation of the craft product must be perfect every time,” said Sinclair.

He added that, on the beer side, licensees should consider stocking ‘different Scottish beer styles including those from within your locality across lagers, ales and stouts’.

“Staff training on the range of Scottish beers on offer is vital to ensure that the consumer is educated on the brands and making an informed choice,” he said.