Spirit brands to watch in 20139th January, 2013 by Becky Paskin
As the world’s spirits markets edge towards 2013, the stakes are high for brands from Absolut to Yamazaki. Richard Woodard and Becky Paskin eye up the odds.
So farewell then, 2012. A year marked by continued economic uncertainty in many western markets, not least the Eurozone countries in general and Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal in particular.
The UK wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs either, so thank heavens for what we really need to stop calling the “emerging” markets of Asia and Latin America. It’s no longer an appropriate adjective for a country like China, which now makes more revenue for Hennessy Cognac than the US.
For seismic shifts in the global spirits marketplace, we had to wait until the closing months of the year and Diageo’s long-awaited deal to secure a chunk of Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits. Hard to know what would be more interesting: having some insight into Diageo’s strategy for India in 2013 – or being a fly on the wall during those negotiations with Dr Mallya.
The other big stories of the year, beyond Campari’s US$415m deal to buy Appleton Estate owner Lascelles deMercado & Co were trend-driven: a feverish surge of activity in American whiskey, driven by flavour innovation and “white dog”; and, on the other side of the pond, the remarkable renaissance of Irish whiskey, led by Jameson’s 4m cases, but with a rash of new distilleries springing up from Belfast to Dingle.
It’s a year that will be remembered for sad reasons, too: for us here at sb, with the passing of deputy editor Alan Lodge at the cruelly young age of 29; and for the industry at large, which said farewell to one of its most powerful and charismatic figures, Patrick Ricard.
But onwards and upwards. You want predictions for 2013? We’ve got ‘em. What’s more, it’s good news: has there ever been a more dynamic and exciting time to be involved in the spirits industry? We doubt it. Well-funded and (mostly) quality-driven multi-nationals are being elbowed and jostled by local players with grand ambitions, and a burgeoning craft spirits sector that is breaking taboos and making great liquid from Alaska to Australia.
All of which makes choosing 25 brands to watch in 2013 a tricky task, but no less valuable and rewarding for that. The products featured on the following pages aren’t necessarily going to be the biggest or even the fastest-growing names in their sectors next year (although many of them may well be). Instead, they’re the ones we reckon will be the most watchable labels on the back-bar and the retail shelf in the 12 months ahead – and for all manner of reasons.