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SB Voices: What does 2018 have in store for spirits?

With Brexit, MUP and other global turbulences, 2018 will not be an easy ride for spirits. But the industry has much to look forward to in the coming 12 months.

There’s nothing like ringing in a new year to set the mood for thoughtful reflection, and 2017 provided plenty to dwell on. Pioneering distilleries fired up production, legal battles waged, some categories celebrated a stunning return to growth while others floundered, jaw­-dropping acquisitions were made and product development became all the more fascinating. Keep your eyes peeled for our list of the biggest news stories that rocked the spirits sector last year – which will be published online next week.

Looking ahead, 2018 will produce an even more complex global marketplace for spirits, as the UK takes strides in its exit from the European Union, ready for a full divorce in March 2019, minimum unit pricing comes into affect in Scotland, setting a global precedent for the policy, and other geopolitical factors impact markets around the world.

Despite all this, the industry appears to be in rude health, with Scotch and Cognac exports continuing to rebound, new distilleries opening at a rate of knots, innovation flourishing, and fascinating acquisitions dominating industry headlines.

Such success extends to the on-trade, as new venues and projects showcase impressive imagination from serious bartenders, who are also enabling the sector to mature and develop by collaborating with each other and discussing the broader challenges of their profession. Indeed, the pioneering bartender collective P(our) Symposium will hold its third annual event this year, focusing on the topic of ‘perfection’. Here’s hoping the good work across the industry continues in 2018.

Change is also afoot at The Spirits Business this year – our editorial team is once again complete with the recent appointment of Owen Bellwood as staff writer, while Nicola Carruthers takes over as news, web and social editor, and Melita Kiely returns from her sabbatical as deputy editor. We very much look forward to meeting many of you in the year ahead.

In terms of events, The Spirits Business will host Spirited, a new London-based consumer and trade event, in March. There will be spirits stands, cocktail bars and masterclasses aplenty, so stayed tuned for more details. We will also expand our Global Spirits Masters series with the launch of The Craft Spirits Masters – judging will take place in October and the results will be published in November. Feel free to get in touch for more details.

From everyone at The Spirits Business, we wish all our readers a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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