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SB Voices: Consumers still curious about ‘craft’

As the curtain closes on the Spirited London show, Melita Kiely reflects on the lessons learned at the inaugural event.

A snapshot of the New Product Zone at Spirited London

SB’s headquarters have been overrun in recent weeks with countless deliveries, as the date of our inaugural Spirited London show edged ever closer. Half of our sales and events team was lost within a fort of boxes, bottles clinked as staff meandered through the maze of spirits dotted about the room, and many late nights were had as the team banded together for final preparations before the big event.

There are myriad brilliant and successful trade shows already established around the world. Why, then, should we need another, you might ask. But spirits fairs are imperative to our industry’s success. Whether targeted towards the trade or consumers, there are few occasions that offer the same level of interaction, immersion, and diversity of products to sample. At yesterday’s Spirited London event, conversations abounded, questions were asked, and new information was soaked up as eagerly as the free samples on offer.

As much as guests were there to mingle with friends, imbibe on a free cocktail or two, and while away the evening, there was a genuine thirst for knowledge: where is this brand made? What’s it made from? Where can I buy it? How would you drink it? Our New Product Zone was inundated with visitors, keen to sample some of the newest ‘craft’ spirits around. From Japanese gin and vodka to Scotch whisky, patrons are undoubtedly still intrigued by ‘craft’ and excited to see smaller players bring their brands to market.

Hannah Lanfear, WSET, leading the ‘Evolution of Flavour in Gin’ masterclass

As a drinks journalist, I’ve been told time and time again that consumers are more discerning, they’re looking for new flavours and a unique point of difference with the spirits they buy. But what’s more is they’re hungry for information – and after having the opportunity to meet these consumers I so frequently write about at yesterday’s Spirited London event, it’s evident to see across all demographics.

And that sentiment rings true for the trade, too. The masterclasses kicked-off at 1pm with Amy Hopkins, editor of The Spirits Business, and Billy Abbott, of The Whisky Exchange, exploring the world of boundary-breaking whiskies. The room was full to the brim, and the excitement buzzing around the session filtered through to Amathus’ Jon Anders Fjeldsrud’s ‘Mezcal 101’ session that followed, and continued until the end of ‘Exploring the evolution of flavour of gin’, hosted by Hannah Lanfear of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

Knowledge is power, and the spirits industry will only continue to thrive if we willingly share ideas and information as far and wide as we possibly can. Both brands and masterclass leaders provided this in abundance to make the first Spirited London a roaring success.

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