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Top 50 innovative spirits launches of 2016: 10-1

As our list of the world’s most innovative spirits launches of 2016 reaches its pinnacle, we take in the “first” spirit distilled from birch sap, a vegan cocktail foamer, and a single malt whisky aged in beer barrels. But which product snatched the top spot?

Scroll on to view the final part of our top 50 innovative spirits launches of 2016

After much deliberation and debate, we whittled our shortlist down to celebrate 10 spirits that we believe to be the most experimental, creative and downright interesting of 2016.

Each has something unique to offer – while some merge categories in a way no big player has done before, others cater to the the dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan consumers across the globe.

Despite their differences, one thing unites them: each liquid is dedicated to breaking boundaries, evolving the spirits industry, and all the while educating consumers in the process.

Click through the following pages to see the fourth part of our top 50 innovative spirits launches of 2016, counting down from 10 to 1.

To view 20 to 11, click here.

To view 30 to 21, click here.

To view 40 to 31, click here.

To view 50 to 41, click here.

10. Miraculous Foamer

If you look out for vegan cocktail ingredients, then it is likely the Miraculous Foamer from Vancouver-based bitters producer Ms. Better’s Bitters may well have been on your radar this year.

Thought to be the “world’s first” vegan botanical foamer for cocktails, it is intended for use in place of egg whites and as a “function-forward” bitter to foam rather than flavour.

Made from a “neutral spirit” with three macerated “proprietary organic botanicals”, the foamer has been developed for use in both classic cocktails that call for egg whites, such as fizzes and sours, alongside original creations.

For more information, click here

9. Glenfiddich IPA

Glenfiddich released a series of whiskies in September as part of its new Experimental Collection, the first of which was a single malt aged in ex-IPA beer barrels.

Glenfiddich IPA Experiment is a 43% abv single malt Scotch whisky imbued with zesty citrus and tangy hops from the oak casks that had previously held a bold Speyside IPA. The collaborators had to design and create a new IPA craft beer that would go into whisky casks, which would later be used to finish the first experimental variant.

The Glenfiddich Experimental Series has been designed to “inspire unusual and unexpected variants”, with a new release to be unveiled every year.

For more information, click here

8. Baileys XC

Described as an “innovation in drinks alchemy”, Diageo introduced Baileys XC – a blend of Cognac, “fine spirit” and cream – to the liqueur category in April.

Launched first into the global travel retail channel, the new offering is inspired by “French sophistication “ and the growing popularity of luxury liqueurs.

Presented in a gold and blue intricately designed bottle, it also features an eye-catching hologram to enhance its appeal as a gift product.

For more information, click here

7. Patrón Sherry Matured Añejo

Made from 100% weber blue agave that is baked in brick ovens for around three days, Patrón Sherry Matured Añejo is the result of both the traditional ‘tahona’ process and modern mill method.

After distillation, the Tequila is aged for more than two years in oak barrels from Spain, previously used to produce oloroso Sherry. It is “bright, medium-gold” in colour and offers a “complex aroma of pecans, fresh-cooked agave, light butter, and dried fruits”.

Given tasting notes include pecans, light- toasted oak, caramel, raisins, light vanilla and hints of butter.

For more information, click here

6. Smirnoff Sourced

Continuing the theme of attempting to marry the indulgence of alcohol with increasing health awareness, in February, Diageo took its Smirnoff brand in an entirely new direction with the launch of Smirnoff Sourced.

The flavoured-vodka range is infused with real fruit juice, carries the gluten-free claim and steers away from the use of high-fructose corn syrup found in other flavoured beverages.

Available in Ruby Red Grapefruit, Cranberry Apple and Pineapple variants, the range will “have big consumer appeal”, said Diageo’s CEO, Ivan Menezes, when the group’s H1 financial results were released. “It leverages all the growing trends in food and beverage, which have not yet been available in spirits on a mass scale.”

For more information, click here

5. Novo Fogo Single Barrel Cachaças

In March, Novo Fogo announced that it was launching four single-barrel-aged cachaças, aged from between one and five years.

Barrel 87 was the release to watch: only 300 bottles of the five-year-old spirit were made available for purchase, retailing at US$99.99, with the liquid boasting tasting notes of pecans, crème brûlée, chamomile, and bitter chocolate.

The other releases included one-year-old “butterscotch and Moscato grapes” Barrel 86, three-year-old “all-spice, clove” Barrel 33, and three-year-old “powdered sugar, toasted coconut and black walnut” Barrel 152.

For more information, click here

4. Bottega Crema di Pistacchio

A number of brands scrambled to ensure their products were entirely free from all animal products, and one of the most successful of these was Bottega, with its innovative Crema di Pistacchio cream liqueur.

Marking a significant departure for the producer that is perhaps best known for its Prosecco and grappas, the liqueur is made from pistachios grown on the foothills of Mount Etna.

The resulting 17% abv ‘cream’ is described as “pleasantly sweet” with an “intense aroma of pistachio”, and is suited to sipping, mixing in cocktails or as an accompaniment for pastries and ice cream.

For more information, click here

3. Freya

Billed as the world’s first spirit distilled from birch sap, Freya hit the UK market in November 2016. Said to be made using only sustainable methods, the product topped off a year of releases using unusual raw materials to create base spirits.

The birch sap in question is harvested just once a year in the spring from the forests of Northern Europe, before it is distilled in hand-made copper pot stills at the English Spirit Distillery in Great Yeldham, Essex.

Dave Wallwork, founder of Pure Wild Spirits, the company behind Freya, says the spirit heralds the arrival of a “new category”.

For more information, click here

2. Baileys Almande

Building on the trend for cream liqueurs made without the animal products, in June Diageo introduced an almond milk-based variant of its market-leading Baileys brand – Baileys Almande.

Created using almond essence, cane sugar and real vanilla, the product was created following “great interest” from vegans, a Diageo spokesperson said.

They are not quite there yet – “this testing has determined that the liquid has a derivative of beeswax and honey. We are working to find a resolution to meet all vegan requirements, and will let people know when we have more news to share, along with news about larger availability in the US and globally.”

For more information, click here

1. Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin

Produced at what’s thought to be Kyoto’s first licensed distillery, Ki No Bi gin is created by head distiller Alex Davies, with input from Japanese spirits specialist Masami Onishi.

A rice spirit base provides the backdrop, while botanicals include yellow yuzu from the north of Kyoto Prefecture, hinoki wood chips (Japanese cypress), bamboo, gyokuro tea from the Uji region and green sansh (Japanese peppercorn) berries.

Famed local Fushimi water is used to reduce the gin to its bottling strength of 45.7% abv. It takes six weeks to produce just one 2,000-litre run, with each crafted from six different distillates.

For more information, click here

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