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Top 10: Spirit launches in November

Vodka for active, image-conscious folk, Texas craft whiskey and brandy cream liqueurs, are amongst our pick of the top 10 spirit launches during November.

These three spirits launched during November couldn’t be any more different

There’s usually some kind of theme running throughout our roundups of the best spirit launches each month, but for November we’re stumped to find a link between our top 10.

We have a couple of liqueurs on the list, both of which couldn’t be anymore different, while our whiskies include one made with a rare strain of Scottish barley and another from a craft distillery in Texas that is spreading its distribution outside the US for the first time.

This month we have a few new brands of rum launching: a range from large French drinks group La Martiniquaise, and another from relatively unknown Hampden Estates.

Take a flick through our pick and see if you can spot some kind of a theme developing, because we certainly can’t.

Arran Orkney Bere whisky

Isle of Arran Distillers teamed up with the Agronomy Institute at Orkney College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, to produce a new style of whisky using a rare variety of barley.

Believed to be one of the oldest cultivated barleys, brought to Scotland by the Vikings over 1,000 years ago, bere barley is not usually used to make whisky due to difficulties with its cultivation.

But Isle of Arran Distillers has produced enough bere barley for its limited edition (5,800 bottles) Orkney Bere, which it describes as having flavours of ripe apples, oak and spices.

To read more about where Orkney Bere is available, click here.

Devotion Vodka

You may have already heard of Devotion Vodka, the protein-infused vodka brand backed by Jersey Shore star The Situation (also known as Mike Sorrentino). Now the brand, that pitches itself as a spirit for “image-conscious men and women who live active lifestyles”, has released a range of sugar-free and gluten-free flavoured vodkas.

Available in Blood Orange, Black and Blue (blackberry and blueberry) and The Perfect Cosmo, the Devotion range is flavoured using essences and natural flavour compounds.

The range is distributed in select US markets, including California, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut and Florida, with an RRP of US$19.99.

Devotion was recently at the centre of a lawsuit brought by The Situation, who claimed the company reneged on an endorsement deal.

Williams Chase Great British Extra Dry Gin

Chase Distillery has launched its Williams Great British Extra Dry Gin in the UK, following a successful run in Spain.

Made using the distillery’s signature potato vodka, Chase claims the gin is the first single estate English gin to be created for over 200 years.

At 40% abv, Williams Great British Extra Dry Gin is designed to be sipped neat or used in a sweet Martini, and retails for £28.

To read more about the launch, and its expected success with Britain’s ‘gin renaissance’, click here.

Kahlua Midnight

Kahlua Midnight, an infusion of rum and strong black coffee liqueur, has become a permanent addition to the Pernod Ricard portfolio.

Carrying a 35% abv, the liqueur is designed to take advantage of demand for less sweet coffee-flavoured products.

Designed to capture interest from 21-34-year-old partygoers, Pernod Ricard is pushing Kahlua Midnight’s signature serve as chilled neat, followed by a fresh slice of orange.

For now the brand extension has only been released in the US, but with demand for coffee-flavoured spirits growing strong – thanks to the popularity of Patron XO Café – expect Kahlua Midnight to roll out to other key markets soon.

Balcones Texas whiskey

The US craft distilling movement is continuing apace, but despite its popularity you’ll rarely see a brand spreading its presence outside the States.

That’s part of what makes the arrival of Balcones whiskey in the UK and Nordics so exciting.

Four of the Waco, Texas distillery’s range are now available to buy in the UK, Norway and Sweden. They include Baby Blue, a corn whiskey made from atole with an RRP of £56.95; True Blue 100, a 50% abv version of Baby Blue with an RRP of £67.95; Brimstone, another corn whiskey whose production features a unique liquid-smoking process with sun-baked Texas scrub oak, and carries an RRP of £64.95; and ‘1’ Texas Single Malt, which is available for around £74.95.

Balcones owner Chip Tate is seeking investment with hopes to roll the range out to further markets in due course. His aim, he says, is to show the world “what craft distilling is truly all about – refined, unique spirits born of tradition, that add something new, something bold”.

St-Remy a la Crème

Remy Cointreau has released its St-Remy a la Crème liqueur – a blend of French brandy and cream – in travel retail, following a trial run in the US.

The liqueur is described as having a walnut, chocolate and caramel nose with a coffee and cookie taste.

Remy Cointreau suggest St-Remy a la Crème is served neat, on ice, or in a long drink with coffee and Cointreau.

To read more about the launch, click here.

Mackinlay’s The Journey

Whyte & Mackay has released a second batch of Mackinlay’s The Journey, a replica of a whisky first bottled for explorer Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic exploration in 1907.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) approached Whyte & Mackay to recreate the whisky to raise funds for expedition bases on the Antarctic.

The first run of Mackinlay’s The Journey raised almost £250,000 for the fund, and it’s expected this second batch of 100,000 bottles will raise nearer to £500,000.

The limited edition release will be available in several key markets across the globe, including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Scandinavia and travel retail.

For more details on Mackinlay’s The Journey, click here.

Saint James Caribbean rum

French spirits group La Martiniquaise has unveiled a new rum line named Saint James.

Launched at TFWA Cannes in October, Saint James is a blend of rums from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana and available in two varieties: Heritage and Reserve.

Saint James Heritage features rums aged in oak barrels, while Saint James Reserve contains matured rums, most of which are more than three years old.

La Martiniquaise is currently entering a negotiation phase with several key markets to list the two lines in the on- and off-trade, as well as in travel retail.

George Dickel Rye Whiskey

Diageo has released a rye version of its George Dickel Tennessee whiskey, made from a 95% rye mash bill.

The rye whiskey undergoes a charcoal chill filtration process, similar to other whiskeys in the George Dickel range.

Its launch in the US comes well ahead of a rye whiskey from rival Jack Daniel’s, who releases an unaged expression, again using a charcoal filtration process, in December.

For more information about George Dickel Rye, click here.

Rum Fire/ Hampden Estates Gold rum

Jamaican rum producer Hampden Estates is rolling its overproof rum brand Rum Fire out to select cities around the world for the first time.

Currently only available in Jamaica, where it sells around 5,000 cases per year, Rum Fire is a premium, 63% abv white rum with a soft tase and spicy finish.

It will be launched in New York, London, Miami, Berlin, Amsterdam and Zurich amongst other cities throughout the course of next year.

To coincide with the rollout of Rum Fire, Hampden Estates is introducing a new golden rum named Hampden Estates Gold. At 40% abv the golden rum is made using caramel produced on-site, and has a sweet and spicy flavour.

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