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The Spirits Business celebrates 150 issues

As we mark the 150th issue of The Spirits Business, we look at the achievements of an industry that has shown its mettle in the face of massive challenges.

150 issues Spirits Business
The August 2022 issue of The Spirits Business is the magazine’s 150th publication

June 2018 marked 100 issues of The Spirits Business, and it feels as though in no time at all, here we are celebrating 150 editions.

When the magazine hit the 100-issue milestone, the opening paragraph of the published reflection noted: “When the first issue of The Spirits Business was sent to print almost 11 years ago, the world was a remarkably different place. Since then, wars have ended, governments have formed and dissolved, new technologies have made an indelible mark on the international marketplace, and economies have crashed, only to rise once more.”

Well, who knew how much the world could evolve in the space of just four more years?

Since then, the spirits industry has contended with: the UK’s departure from the European Union; tariff trade wars between the US, the EU, the UK and China; a global pandemic and its ongoing repercussions; and war in Ukraine. It’s been a significant period of geopolitical and economic disorder for the global spirits industry.

In 2018, when issue 100 was published, the industry was locked in a bitter trade war, sparked by two key events: steel and aluminium taxes in the US; and the ongoing feud between the Boeing and Airbus airlines.

Retaliatory tariffs were thrown between the US and the EU, China,­ and the UK, with spirits from Scotch whisky and American whiskey to Cognac, vodka and liqueurs all caught in the firing line at one stage or another. Relief came in mid-2021 when the US and the UK agreed to a five-year truce on tariffs relating to the Boeing and Airbus dispute. Later that same year, the industry welcomed news of a new trade agreement between the US and the EU, marking the end of the tariff on American whiskey.

It was an important development for the trade, which had suffered colossal financial losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns around the world devastated the on-trade, which was forced to shut for months on end to stem the spread of Covid-19. Business travel ground to a screeching halt as virtual Zoom meetings became the norm – and only in recent months have we started to see the first shoots of recovery.

The knock-on effect is still being felt industry-wide, as supply chain issues, staff shortages, and logistical challenges impact all aspects of the spirits industry. The Russia-Ukraine war has exacerbated some matters further, making both markets nigh on inoperable for brands.

The past two years have presented the most significant change in recent spirits history. However, it has also demonstrated one key quality of the global spirits trade: resilience. Around the world, the sector is uniting to combat the challenges it faces – and the data looks positive. Last month’s Premium Alcoholic Beverages Market Outlook (2022-2032) by Future Market Insights places the value of the premium alcohol market as currently worth US$700 billion. By 2032, this is expected to have more than doubled to US$1.7 trillion. It will be intriguing to see whether this eye-watering amount can be achieved.

There are a number of popular talking points that continue to spark industry discussions. In the 101st issue of The Spirits Business, in July 2021, the gin report asked whether innovation had gone too far and was therefore risking consumers’ trust.

Fast-forward to the most recent gin issue in July 2022, and despite the number of times that question has been posed in the past few years, the most plausible answer would be ‘no’. Gin remains buoyant, and although sales have dipped in established markets such as the US, there remains an abundance of untapped potential in international regions.

Other notable areas of interest in spirits over the past four years have included the rise and rise of celebrity brands, some of which have graced the cover of The Spirits Business. Criminal Minds actor Aisha Tyler took the front-page splash when she featured as our Cocktail Chat interviewee in August 2020, discussing her own ready-to-drink cocktail brand, Courage + Stone.

Vampire Diaries actors Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder featured on the November 2021 cover, as the duo ramped up plans for their Brother’s Bond Bourbon brand.

And in January 2022, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stood with jimadors in an agave field to tell us all about his rocketing Teremana Tequila brand.

It is pleasing to see the ongoing growth of The Spirits Business magazine over these past years. As the issues continue to grow in size, for the first time this year a standalone Brand Champions report on the world’s million-case-selling brands was published.

The events portfolio has simultaneously soared, and now includes 22 blind tastings in The Global Spirits Masters Competitions, plus the annual Wine & Spirits Show, and Wine & Spirits Show Chelsea.

The Spirits Business
The Spirits Business editorial team, L-R: Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor; Georgie Pursey, digital editor; Melita Kiely, editor; and Alice Brooker, senior staff writer

Poignant moment

To celebrate 150 issues is truly a poignant moment for the magazine. “From the oldest, most distinguished Scotch whisky to the fiercest baijiu, with interviews from industry titans to the bartender running the smaller bars in the UK, The Spirits Business celebrates 150 issues and nearly 13 years of publication,” said Anthony Hawser, chairman.

“Our magazine covers every angle of the industry, and is highly regarded throughout the worldwide drinks trade. Among its highlights are the magazine’s Brand Champions report and summaries of the best bars in the world. The editors and writers who’ve worked on The Spirits Business since its launch have made it the trade’s definitive voice.

“Today, our distinguished editorial team of Melita Kiely, Nicola Carruthers, Alice Brooker, and Georgie Pursey – a match-winning line-up by any standards – continues this tradition. I want to thank all of them, and the rest of the team – designer Alan MacKenzie-Morris, advertising manager Mile Budemir, sub-editor Adrian Arratoon, and our superstar sales team, Richard Cochrane and Ryan Graves, to name a few.

“And thank you especially to our readers who regularly make The Spirits Business the best-read and most influential spirits magazine in the world.”

Spirits Business
150 issues: famous cover stars include Aisha Tyler, The Rock, Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley

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