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Top 10 spirit launches of 2012

From flavoured vodka to extra-aged whisky and Cognac, what were the most notable spirit launches of 2012?

Our pick of the Top 10 spirit launches in 2012

There have been some interesting developments in the global spirits industry over the past 12 months. We’ve seen Pernod Ricard launch a wacky range of vodkas with a quirky character as its figurehead; Malibu infused with Tequila; and a hoard of celebrities lining up to endorse nearly every new spirit launch this year.

It’s been tough choosing just 10 spirits to list as our top launches of 2012, but we’ve whittled it down to the ones we feel have made wither a notable difference in their field, or are innovative enough to forge a trend in the coming year.

Disagree with our choices? Think we’ve missed one? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka

As far as flavoured vodkas go, here in The Spirits Business offices in London we couldn’t think of anything less appealing that Pinnacle’s Pumpkin Pie vodka. But the sweet pumpkin treat wasn’t designed for the UK market. Over in the US the new innovative flavour has gone down like a luge shot, with huge success over the holiday season when the humble pumpkin takes centre stage during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It cements new owner Beam’s place at the front of the flavoured vodka revolution, and raises questions over the drinks group’s plans for the brand’s global expansion during 2013 and beyond.

The Macallan 1824 Series

The Macallan caused much discussion this year when it replaced its younger age statements with the 1824 Series, which is determined by colour rather than age. The Macallan 18 Year Old is now the brand’s youngest core whisky with an age statement, now that Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby have joined its ranks. The Scotch brand owned by Edrington planned to help consumers choose a whisky based upon its flavour and character without being ‘misled’ by an age statement. It caused controversy upon its launch by claiming those whiskies stating their age were “lazy and one-dimensional”.


Oo la la. Perhaps the most risque spirits launch of 2012, G-Spirits presented to the world a range of vodka, whisky and rum that came with the assurance that every drop had been poured over the breasts of a model before being bottled. Unsurprisingly the article we published on the launch in  became one of our biggest hit of the year, although whether the Germany-based company actually shifted many bottles we couldn’t say. “For us there is nothing more than the erotism of a beautiful woman,” the company explains on its website. “To create the perfect taste we let every single drop of our spirits run over the breasts of a special type of woman, a type we recognize in this liquor.” However G-Spirits’ X-rated marketing strategy was condemned by European spirits groups as indecent and offensive.

Jim Beam Jacob’s Ghost

There have been a raft of white whiskey/ white dog launches this year, including some from Jack Daniel’s, Halewood International and The Teeling Whisky Co, but this one from Jim Beam could have real global potential. With bartenders more interested in creating realistic Prohibition-style cocktails, they have been turning to using unaged whiskey and ‘bootleg’ spirits. Currently this sub-category of spirit is only starting to gain pace in the US, but Jacob’s Ghost could be the first to capture a global audience using Beam’s established routes to market. Aged for just a year in charred white oak barrels before being filtered to remove colouration, Jacob’s Ghost is bottled at 40% abv and following a US launch, is expected to be rolled out across Jim Beam’s core markets soon.

Appleton Estate 50 Years Jamaica Independence Reserve

Launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jamiaca’s independence, Appleton Estate 50 Years Jamaica Independence Reserve is thought to be the world’s oldest commercially-available rum. Although the youngest rum in the blend was at least 50 years old, “there’s stuff in there older than that,” and is available to buy from specialist rum retailers around the world. It would set you back a hefty US$5,000 though.

D’Usse Cognac

The launch of D’Usse, in collaboration with rapper Jay-Z, marked owner Bacardi’s first foray into the US Cognac market. Launched in June, D’Usse is a luxury VSOP blend of eaux-de-vie sourced from Château de Cognac, also the home of Bacardi’s Baron Otard brand, which is not currently sold in the US.

Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select

Just as there are millions of Frank Sinatra fans in the world, the crooner himself was one of the biggest fans of Tennessee whiskey Jack Daniel’s. So in homage to the late singer, Jack Daniel’s released Sinatra Select, to commemorate the run-up to the centenary of his birth. Its availability in Las Vegas airport duty free only has frustrated Jack and Frank fans, eager to get their hands on the brand’s first whiskey made predominantly from liquid aged in special Sinatra casks that feature carved grooves on their interior to expose the spirit to more wood. It will however be rolled out to over 200 additional airports from January.

Stoli Salted Karamel

Yet another flavoured vodka? Stolichnaya argues not, claiming Stoli Salted Karamel is the world’s first salted caramel flavour, with a more savoury than sweet taste. That does surprise us, considering its popularity as a sweet and savoury dessert sauce, ice-cream and chocolate filling, and America’s preoccupation with dessert-flavoured vodkas. It joins Stoli Chocolat Razberi in Stoli’s Indulgent range, which sits alongside the revamped Hot n’ Sticki flavours which were also released this year.

Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts

All 11 bottles of Glenfiddich’s Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve were sold in 2012 across several auctions held around the world. Created to celebrate the life of William Grant’s granddaughter and raise funds for charities such as WaterAid, Walking with the Wounded and SHFT Initiatives, the 55-year-old Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve has broken records around the world. One bottle sold for US$94,000 at a New York auction, becoming the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold at auction, while another became the most valuable sold at auction in Canada at US$52,000. Sheed Roberts herself also broke records this year, when at the age of 110 she passed away, losing her title as Scotland’s oldest living woman.

Yellow Spot

Originally produced by Dublin wine merchant Mitchell & Son in the 1960s, Yellow Spot single pot still Irish whiskey made a long-awaited comeback this year, in a collaboration with Pernod Ricard Irish Distillers. Having been out of production since 1968, the 12-year-old Irish whiskey is aged in three separate casks: American Kentucky first fill oak; Spanish sherry butts; and Spanish Malaga casks used previously only for Pedro Ximenez. Yellow Spot joins Green Spot as the second whisky collaboration between Mitchell & Son and Pernod, and signals the return of a trend for luxury single pot Irish whiskey.

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