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Top 50 most innovative spirit launches of 2014: 40-31

While some pioneering spirits producers pushed the boundaries of distillation last year, others opened our eyes to the importance of provenance and heritage.

We round up the most innovative spirits launches of 2014, as we continue our countdown from 40 to 31

As we continue our countdown of the most innovative spirits launches from 2014, the full force of the industry’s creativity is becoming even more apparent.

New flavours were paired with whisky, as producers took a different approach from the rising number of honey-flavoured expressions.

British gin brands brought the focus back to heritage and provenance, while one company experimented with adding macerated botanicals to its vodka brand to create a natural, botanical-infused vodka.

Elsewhere in the vodka category, traditional methods of distillation were swapped in favour of freeze filtering and usual agricultural products replaced with milk, while a certain bitters brand ventured into a new spirits category for the first time in nearly two centuries.

Click through to the following pages for the second instalment of our top 50 innovative spirits launches of 2014, counting down from 40 to 31.

40. Jack Daniel’s No.27 Gold

Jack-Daniel's-Tennessee-Whiskey-No.27-GoldFlavoured whiskies are certainly nothing new to the industry, but in April last year Brown-Forman made the move to step away from the more frequent honey-flavoured releases, among which it has enjoyed unrivalled success.

Instead, the group opted to launch maple-finished Jack Daniel’s No.27 Gold as a travel retail exclusive.

The new release is filtered twice through sugar maple charcoal and extra-matured in maple barrels.

The expression was first launched in stores in Sydney and Melbourne airports as part of a partnership with Nuance Group.

For more information, click here.

39. Chilgrove Gin

Chilgrove-GinWith gin consumers having to vie even harder for consumer attention these days it has never been so important for brands to have a strong point of difference.

Created by Christopher Tetley and Dr Celia Beaumont-Hutchings, Chilgrove Gin launched in the summer as the “first English gin” distilled from English grapes. Its producers have been pushing the spirit as a “gin for all seasons”.

It is distilled with 11 botanicals including juniper, coriander seed, sweet orange, savory, angelica root, lime, liquorice root, orris root, grains of paradise, bitter orange and water mint.

Tetley and Beaumont-Hutchings were inspired to create Chilgrove by English gin’s origins.

For more information, click here.

38. Becketts Gin

becketts-GinEnglish gin has a rich and fruitful heritage, but small batch brand Becketts Gin claims to be the “world’s only” gin infused with English juniper berries, handpicked from Box Hill in Surrey.

Other botanicals included in its innovative recipe include mint grown in Kingston-upon-Thames, Moroccan lime and Spanish orange peel.

Not only this, but the company undertook a long-term project in partnership with Forestry Commission to create a new sustainable population of juniper after it came to light that a deadly fungus, called Phytophthora austrocedrae, was spreading through the British countryside killing juniper berries.

For more information, click here.

37. Tincup

TInCup-WhiskeyTincup claims to be Colorado’s “first legal whiskey”, offering a “bolder, spicier” alternative for American whiskey lovers. But what this brand does differently to many brands on the shelf, is not take itself too seriously. The only hint of heritage this brand has is a nod to the vessels miners would use to drink their whiskey from in the Rockies, and its branding is so tongue-in-cheek it’s hard to not to warm to the brand immediately.

Created by Jess Graber, founder of Stranathan’s Colorado Whiskey, Tincup is made from a blend of corn, rye and malt aged in charred American white oak barrels.

The expression was named after an old mining town in Gunnison County in homage to Colorado’s whisky-drinking miners of the 19th century.

Designed for sipping and sharing, Tincup is described as having an aroma of citrus, black pepper and ginger, leading to notes of rye spice, cinnamon and caramel on the palate.

For more information, click here.

36. Amaro di Angostura

Amaro-di-AngosturaIt took 190 years, but the house of Angostura finally entered a new spirit category with the launch of Amaro di Angostura last autumn.

Marking the brand’s milestone anniversary, Amaro di Angostura is made using Angostura aromatic bitters is used as the base, combined with additional spices and neutral alcohol.

The liqueur is said to have notes of dark chocolate, cinnamon and liquorice.

For more information, click here.

35. Smirnoff White

Smirnoff-White-VodkaIn a refreshing move away from the myriad of wacky vodka flavours on the market, last year Diageo launched Smirnoff White – a “pioneering new vodka variant”.

What makes Smirnoff White earn its spot in our innovative list is that it has been uniquely freeze filtered at -6oC and passed through modern charcoal filters, heralded as a “true revolution in Smirnoff’s distillation process”.

Packaged in a “striking” white bottle designed for shelf-standout to imitate arctic ice, the new vodka expression received the drinks firm’s largest ever travel retail launch for a vodka and is part of Diageo’s wider strategy for premiumisation.

For more information, click here.

34. Blackwoods Botanical Vodka

Blackwoods-Botanical-VodkaIt was around this time last year that British drinks producer Blackwoods blurred the lines of vodka and gin, combining both categories by infusing its classic vodka with botanicals.

To make Blackwoods Botanical Vodka, Blackwoods Vodka is macerated with the same Shetland botanicals used for Blackwoods Gin after distillation to create a “smooth and rounded” taste, according to owners Blavod Drinks.

The botanicals used have all been handpicked in the Shetland region between May and July, and include sea pink, marsh marigold, meadow sweet and angelica.

The maceration process is said to give added depth to the vodka leading to a “really interesting taste you can’t find anywhere else”.

For more information, click here.

33. Dappa Grappa

Dappa-GrappaUK micro-distillery Devon Distillery became the first to launch the British equivalent of Italian digestif Grappa last year.

Dappa, as it is called, is made using skins of English red grapes distilled in a copper pot still to create the 43% abv pomace brandy.

The first vintage was completed in October 2013 using mainly Pinot Noir and Rondo grape skins, plus small amounts of Dornfelder and Regent.

The producers describe the drink as tasting if “clean crisp and grassy flavours, with hints of berries and earthly tones” and suggest serving with coffee or dark chocolate.

For more information, click here.

32. Milk Money vodka

Milk-Money-VodkaA cow-loving family of dairy farmers launched Milk Money Vodka in January last year – a vodka distilled solely from milk.

Promising to provide “udder satisfaction”, the product was first released by Leche Spirits in Colorado before being rolled out further in New Mexico in February.

With an abv of 40%, the unusual spirit is said to have a “full bodied taste” with a “clean sweet finish”.

Keeping in line with its milk-focused theme, the bottle has been designed to replicate a traditional milk bottle and create a nostalgic effect for consumers.

For more information, click here. 

31. Ballantine’s Brasil

Ballantines-BrasilChivas Brothers was another firm that shunned the traditional flavour of honey, and opted instead to combine its blended Scotch whisky Ballantine’s with lime flavouring to make Ballantine’s Brasil.

The spirit drink – which it must be called in order to adhere to strict Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and EU guidelines – was described as “both smooth and consistent, with the sweet and creamy flavours of Scotch balancing the refreshing lime taste”.

Ballantine’s Brasil was first launched in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, before its global launch in February 2014.

Ballantine’s insisted the launch was in no way a means to capitalise on the World Cup that took place in Brasil last year, but rather a response to the “huge opportunity for spirit drinks that are made with whisky”.

For more information, click here.


Top 10 spirit launches of 2014: 30-21

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