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Top 50 innovative spirits launches of 2016: 50-41

Gin distilled with seven different hops, rum containing “real shimmering Phoenix tears” and a whiskey “world first” all feature in the first instalment of our top 50 most innovative spirits launches of last year.

In 2016 spirits brands large and small challenged each other to push for more, smashing the status quo in the process

Consumers constantly crave the thrill of the new – as such, spirits brands must tirelessly chase creativity to survive.

There was no shortage of invention in 2016, as industry players of all sizes challenged convention and pushed themselves in terms of research and development breakthroughs, marketing ingenuity and more.

But innovation without aim is fruitless. One must tap into current whims and remain agile, committed to excellence and unafraid of striking out to succeed in perfectly meeting that customer hunger in the moment – and that takes guile.
What is most impressive about this 2016 collection of inventiveness is that it reaches across the category spectrum, spans the globe and takes into account all occasions from at-home imbibing to haute cocktails.

Click through the following pages to see the first part of our top 50 innovative spirits launches of 2016, counting down from 50 to 41.

50: Norwich Hop Gin

Released by independent gin company Bullards, Norwich Hop Gin is distilled with seven different hop varieties, all of which begin with the letter ‘C’ – ensuring “maximum hoppy flavour”.

The expression is intended to “straddle the line” between Gin Lane and Beer Street – paintings by historic artist William Hogarth – and “marry the best elements of both” to create an off-the-wall gin.

For more information, click here

49: Wild Turkey Rare Breed

In November last year, Gruppo Campari-owned Bourbon brand Wild Turkey released its barrel proof expression, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, in the UK market.

The expression – a mix of whiskey aged for six, eight and 12 years – was recognised as the number one barrel proof Bourbon in the US at that time.

It holds “peppery, spicy characteristics, sweetly rounded from the years of maturation in brand new oak barrels”.

For more information, click here

48: Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum

In the same month online retailer Firebox unveiled Phoenix Tears Spiced Rum, which contains “real shimmering Phoenix tears with an opalescent lustre”.

Made by “mixing the Phoenix’s sorrowful syrup” with a premium Caribbean rum, the expression offers aromas of brown sugar and dried fruit with cinnamon and ginger on the palate – resulting in a sweet and spicy flavour.

For more information, click here

47: Poetic License Picnic Gin

Back in May last year, independent small batch distillery Poetic License rolled out its limited edition strawberries and cream-flavoured gin to the public, believed to be the “first of its kind”.

The producer spent six months adjusting the recipe for Poetic License Strawberries and Cream Picnic Gin, which combines traditional botanicals such as juniper and coriander with “a mix of real strawberries and cream” that is both “distilled and infused” for a stronger, fruitier taste.

For more information, click here

46: Warner Edwards Lemon Balm

In September, UK gin producer Warner Edwards launched the first bottling in its new Botanical Garden limited edition range – Warner Edwards ‘Melissa’ Lemon Balm Gin.

The liquid is created using garden-grown lemon balm – a member of the mint family also known by its Latin name, Melissa officinalis – and pays homage to founder Tom Warner’s late mother, Adèle, who was a keen gardener and used aromatic herbs within her cooking.

For more information, click here

45: Ginerosity

Ginerosity, secured a spot on our list for its standing as the “world’s first social enterprise gin”.

Scottish gin brand Pickering’s partnered with social enterprise entrepreneur Chris Thewlis, Dave Mullen of marketing agency Story, and drinks industry and export specialist David Moore to found Good Spirits (Scotland) CIC, which launched the brand.

Profits from sales of Ginerosity will be invested in charitable causes, particularly those supporting under-privileged or disadvantaged young people.

For more information, click here

44: Captain Morgan Pumpkin Spiced Rum

In September, Captain Morgan unveiled the first pumpkin-flavoured spiced rum on the market – Captain Morgan Jack-O’Blast.

Designed to target the shot market, the limited edition variant blended Caribbean rum with fresh pumpkin, cinnamon and other autumnal spices.

For more information, click here

43: Suntory Whisky Toki

In June, Beam Suntory introduced Suntory Whisky Toki – a blend of malt and grain whiskies from its Hakushu, Yamazaki and Chita distilleries.

A combination of Hakushu American white oak cask malt whisky, Chita “heavy-type” grain whisky, and two Yamazaki malts; the new release “overturns the old relationship between malt and grain”.

Traditional blended whiskies by Beam Suntory usually feature Yamazaki malts as their key component, with grain whiskies merely acting as a broth or “dashi” to accentuate their flavours.

For more information, click here

42: Buffalo Trace Single Estate

It might still be buried in a Kentucky warehouse somewhere, but we certainly thought it was worth celebrating in our innovative spirits top 50 due to its experimental nature.

In June, Buffalo Trace distilled its first batch of homegrown corn for the brand – a strain of non-GMO white corn that dates back to 1876, when E. H. Taylor ran the distillery – and plans to plant a different variety of corn at its farm each year.

The company has not yet determined to brand name, age or price of bottlings from its single estate range.

For more information, click here

41: Hillrock PX-Finished Double Cask Rye Whiskey

Securing number 41 is another spirits first, this time in the form of the “first” 100% American rye whiskey finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry Casks.

The estate-grown, 100% rye expression was designed to emulate the terroir of New York’s Hudson Valley.

Reintroducing traditional whiskey techniques has become “a Hillrock tradition”, says owner Jeff Baker, who added that there were “more exquisite combinations to come”.

For more information, click here

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