Liqueur and speciality spirits brands to watch in 2022By Nicola Carruthers
Thanks to the rise of at-home cocktail making, liqueur and speciality spirits brands enjoyed heightened popularity over the past year – and these three producers are intent on keeping the momentum going in 2022.
*This feature was originally published in the December 2021 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.
The liqueurs and speciality spirits categories have continued to be a hotbed for innovation over the past year, as producers tap into trends such as low‐alcohol and ready‐to‐drink (RTD) products. During the pandemic, consumers turned to making cocktails at home, with brands promoting key serves.
Now that consumers have returned to bars, liqueurs and speciality spirits are seeking to retain the attention of drinkers with lower-sugar options and flavourful drinks, as well as experiential marketing.
“Liqueurs’ versatility can offer bartenders new cocktail possibilities (like coffee‐based cocktails such as Carajillo Licor 43) and also can add a point of difference to other cocktails,” says Julian Fernandez, global marketing and innovation director for spirits at Zamora Company, producer of Licor 43 liqueur. “And for consumers, liqueurs’ easy-to‐make at‐home cocktails can provide an exciting drinking experience in their own homes, which is a growing consumption occasion. We are aware that investment in brand education and trial will be much needed, with a longer‐term approach, but this is what we have been doing with Licor 43 and Villa Massa over the past few years. Being a family‐owned company allows us to have a longer‐term brand building approach.”
De Kuyper recently tapped into alcohol‐free RTD cocktails with the release of a new range, while Pernod Ricard revealed a new design for its Kahlúa coffee liqueur. Zamora’s Villa Massa range of Italian spirits was expanded with the release of two new vermouths.
In November 2021, Beam Suntory sold its liqueur brands Leroux and Kamora to Phillips Distilling Company. Phillips Distilling Co said the Kamora brand was the second best-selling coffee liqueur in the US and Canada.
According to the 2021 Adams Liquor Handbook, cited by Phillips Distilling Co, the liqueurs and cordials category grew by 3.1% in 2020 to become the third‐largest spirit category. From 2009‐2020, consumption volume increased from 20.1 million nine-litre cases to 26.3m, boosted by the popularity of at‐home gatherings and the rise of mixology.
Albert de Heer, global marketing director at liqueur producer De Kuyper Royal Distillers, believes cocktails are the “number‐one opportunity for liqueurs”.
Check out our pick of the liqueur and speciality spirits brands to watch in 2022 below.
For more category forecasts, take a look at our exploration of Tequila and mezcal, rum, Cognac and brandy, gin, world whisky, Irish whiskey, American whiskey, Scotch whisky and vodka.
Spanish liqueur brand Licor 43 has ramped up its innovation pipeline in recent years, debuting a chocolate flavour and a raft of RTDs, as well as taking its vegan liqueur Horchata to the US. The brand has also unveiled a campaign for Carajillo 43 to attract 40m consumers.
Bacardi‐owned vermouth brand Martini made its move into RTDs this year with three new products and unveiled a marketing campaign focused on friendship. Bacardi is planning to focus more on its ‘mindful drinking’ range, which includes Martini and St‐Germain elderflower liqueur, so we can expect to see more activity from the brand in the next year.
The world’s biggest‐selling liqueur brand, Baileys, saw its sales drag in 2020 as the pandemic took its toll. However, the brand’s owner, Diageo, has been busy with innovations this year to tap into cocktails and lower‐calorie trends. The brand unveiled a ‘lighter’ version, made with 40% fewer calories and sugar than the flagship variant, and a limited edition coconut- and pineapple‐infused variant for making Piña Coladas. The brand could recover its sales next year by generating revived interest with new limited edition bottlings.