SB Picks: Top liqueurs trends

26th October, 2012 by Becky Paskin
Olmeca Fusion Tequila liqueurs

Olmeca Fusion – a liqueur, not a Tequila

Liqueurs in disguise: Brand spin-offs

In 2010 there were 82 flavoured rum and vodka launches. Not all of them may have a low enough abv to be classed as liqueurs, but it’s an indicator of how many spirits categories are seeing flavoured extensions as a rite of passage.

You would have to be blind not to have noticed the rush of big-name Irish, Canadian and American whiskeys and bourbons with a hint of cherry/honey/cinnamon/insert-flavour-here now on the market – it was the fastest-growing category in the US in the first quarter of 2012.

Most releases, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Bushmills Irish Honey, are classed as liqueurs, both with a 35% abv. Similarly, new Chocolate Fusión (30% abv) and XO Café Dark Cocoa (35% abv) releases this year from Tequila giants Olmeca and Patrón respectively are demanding to be called liqueurs.

“It’s not a cocoa-flavoured Tequila, it’s a coffee-cocoa liqueur with a Tequila base,” argues Greg Cohen, corporate communications director for Patrón. “It may sound like splitting hairs, but there’s a big difference.”

New blood

Both companies, along with their whisky counterparts, see their divergence into liqueurs as a route to attracting new, young consumers who have “been afraid” of Tequila in the past, but Cohen warns against all spirit categories diving straight into liqueurs to achieve a similar goal.

“There’s certainly a market for liqueur extensions, and certain spirits lend themselves to it, but whether it works depends on the brand. Those that lend themselves to adding new flavours – it’s a natural evolution and it creates excitement for the brand, but it can’t be forced.”

While Patrón is happy to sit on its three extensions – Citronge, XO Café and Dark Cocoa – Olmeca is actively researching new flavours to add to its Fusión range, which also features Hibiscus. Vice president Olivier Fages says to expect “very interesting” flavours in the coming months, with the Mediterranean and South Africa its target markets.

“We plan to launch one new flavour every year, but we don’t want to extend the range too much. After four flavours we’ll take one away to get some dynamism in the range. But Dark Chocolate will remain a core product due to its success.”

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