TOP 10 New Products: December 2016

A New Year’s list we can all get behind…

Our latest brand, Freya birch spirit from Pure Wild Drinks was listed today as one of the top new boozy products by industry magazine The Drinks Business.

Boutique Bar Brands were brought on board to act as the brand agents for Pure Wild spirits in 2016 and before the year was out, we achieved listings in some of the UK’s top cocktail bars including; Happiness Forgets, Swift, Bon Vivant, Timberyard (Edinburgh), The Shed (Notting Hill) and Oriole.

Thanks to The Drinks Business for selecting Freya.  Read what they had to say here.  You can also find out more about this unique spirit, where you can drink it and some cocktail ideas on their website www.purewildspirits.com.

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The Young and Hungry

In a recent report produced by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, in partnership with CGA, findings show that young people aged 19-24 are binge drinking less and are in fact, favouring to spend their money on eating out.

With this generation rapidly becoming a foodie generation thanks to the influence of celebrity chefs and reality cooking programs, young consumers are eating out on average 5 to 6 times per month. And they aren’t just eating at the usual chains. Now conscious of things such as provenance, and calibre of ingredients, younger diners are choosing quality and are making the effort to support new local businesses.

Provenance is a buzz word that gets thrown about in many food and drink related articles these days, but what does it actually mean? Provenance, if you will, is the story of the food or drink you’re having; where did it come from? Who produced it? How far did it travel before it ended up on your plate or in your glass?

Why does this matter? Provenance not only impacts on freshness, which in turn impacts on nutrition  – who wants asparagus that has travelled 6000 miles from Peru and has sat in cold storage for weeks – but actively pursuing a product’s provenance gives consumers the power to support local farms and food producers. It also makes one conscious of seasonality, something we all should pay attention to more.

We are so used to having everything available all year that true seasonality is something a lot of people don’t understand. With the influx of imported fruit and veg, consumers are spoilt for choice, but may indeed be choosing things that are spoiled.

With key figures in the food and drink world driving the importance of seasonality and buying local, this is influencing young consumers and their food choices, which is a terrific thing.

Just because the rise of eating out is on the up, and nights of binge drinking are in decline, this is great for the drinks industry, as it means people are enjoying food and drink together and are becoming more interested in matching their food and drink. Their knowledge of what they are drinking is growing and palates are becoming more adventurous and discerning.

This is reflected in the rise of younger people returning to classic cocktails such as the martini and the old fashioned; gin and whisky were seen as old people’s drinks for decades, however, the reinvigoration of these markets is thanks to the young ditching vodka and its blandness and wanting drinks with flavour. The boom of gin producers over the last six years is certainly evidence of the demand for younger consumers preferring products with a story, products made by people and not companies and products made from quality ingredients.

Likewise the younger crowd has played a role in craft beer boom; London has so many wonderful small breweries and their open days are jam-packed with the under 30s enjoying their IPAs and oatmeal stouts – a drink that was vehemently out of vogue until recent times.

Education is why these changes are occurring. With information so readily available these days through the internet, social media and mainstream television and print media, consumers before they consume the actual food and drink, have consumed the knowledge and information behind it, and it is this digestion of facts that will better equip everyone, consumer and producer alike, to create a vibrant and thriving food and drink scene.

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That’s the Spirit…..for Beer Drinkers

So I had the challenge of trying to educate the rest of the BBB team on the subtleties and complexities of premium spirits. Most of the team have come from a solely beer background so it was an interesting prospect for myself to introduce them to the higher end of the market and combat some of the misconceptions of certain categories that the mass market brands have created.

We started off on the white spirits with a 5 times distilled Vodka called AKA which has then been pot stilled. Being the first spirit we tried the first nose and sip of the liquid generated a few interesting facial reactions. But they soon started rolling it around their pallets (like you would a fine wine) a few times and adapting their “nosing” technique. By this I mean going to and from the glass to acclimatise your nostrils to the alcohol and sniffing gently. Not the large inhale you would do to try and detect the notes from a beer.

Anyway on to the spirit itself, the guys were pretty good when it came to the flavour combinations they detected. Notes of Vanilla, lemon and a rich body that rolled over the tongue rather than attacked the back of your throat like some entry level brands. The overall reaction was positive and a group consensus was that the pot stilling finish really helped round the liquid nicely, 4 stars

Moving swiftly on to a couple of Gin’s. The first being Ish a London dry gin actually from London (believe it or not this is more unusual than it sounds, as ‘London Dry Gin’ is a style not an appellation d’origine contrôlée) Ish is a heavily Juniper led Gin with notes of Grapefruit, pepper on the tongue. Again the smoothness of the Gin was appreciated by the team, with the Gin Martini being the cocktail of choice. Murmurs around the table of ‘that was quite tasty for straight Gin, quite smooth wasn’t it’.

“Right Tequila is up next”, as the groans rang out I poured a Herencia Mexican Blanco. “7 year old Agave is harvested” “What’s Agave?” One of the team asked. Well it’s a flowering green plant (Succulent) that is from the same classification as cactus and the type used for Tequila is Blue Agave. This for me was probably the category I had expected the biggest reaction in, mainly due to the terrible way a lot of Tequilas on the market are usually consumed (salt, throw the cheapest Tequila you can find down your throat and then suck on lemon). Funnily enough when you have good tequila, of which there are many out there it’s a totally difference proposition. Sweet aroma’s of strawberry and pineapple. A little bit of caramel (not from any additives, but due to the altitude and soil type) plus a peppery tingle on the tongue. Delightful and that opinion was shared around the table.  “Do you have any more we can have?”

Next, Rum. A White Rum from Atlantico Platino first. After a bit of background on the production process which for this rum involves both Molasses and sugar cane aged separately for two years and then married together for another 2. Charcoal filtering brings the colour back to clear and you’ve got an incredible White Rum great with Tonic Water (Nothing too citrus or overpowering, So 1724 would be my first choice but Fever Tree does a nice job too and is more accessible).  The team picked out the vanilla richness, notes of citrus but the overwhelming flavour was Cream Soda of all things. Their tiny little minds had been blown by a white rum that tasted incredible, rather than the usual garbage you get in generic rum and coke. It’s the same as the beer world I explained ‘there are thousands of Rums out there with different flavour combinations, by only tasting the lower end of the market you miss out on the whole category. It’s like saying I’ve tried Carling and therefore don’t like lager/beer’

The jewel in the Atlantico Crown is the Private cask. Up to 25 year old Rum aged in a solera process. If you are not familiar with the process (as the team weren’t) it involves the stacking of barrels of all different ages of rum to allow them to combine to create a well-balanced Rum) The rich smooth syrup like older rums with that balance of green apple like sharpness flavours and strong body from the younger rums creates a beautiful product. The aging process with rum happens a lot quicker than with spirits such as Whisky (circa 3 times faster, due to the climate differences between the UK and Rum producing areas such as the Caribbean, Central America etc.)

It’s nice to be able to teach the rest of the BBB team something for once rather than them teaching me the nuances of different styles of beer’s and brands. Particularly with a two Beer Sommeliers amongst the team I am usually playing the role of pupil.

We now have two extremely high quality spirits brands in our portfolio;

 

FREYA

The first pure wild spirit. Distilled from Nordic wild birch sap. A new clean, pure white spirit. Unique taste, full flavour. Wild origins. Unique taste. Craft production. Premium quality. 40% ABV

AVUA

Avuá Cachaça is a single-sourced and pot distilled spirit from a 3rd generation distillery farm 4 hours from Rio de Janeiro, and comes in both 42% silver Prata and the unique South American indigenous  40% Amburana wood aged expressions.

Contact if you would like to find out more – info@boutiquebarbrands.com

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RTD’s

Ready to drink… It makes you cringe a bit, doesn’t it? Memories of Bacardi Breezers in lurid tones and tropical flavours flash through your mind’s eye… But things have changed. RTDs are now Ready to Deliver, and are Really Thoroughly Different.

What’s being bottled now are drinks that are sophisticated and premium, targetting the consumer who is well-educated in the drinks arena. The ingredients being used are high-quality and their story is being told; provenance and sustainability are key factors in the making of these drinks. For example, the tea used in Harry Brompton’s Alcoholic Ice Tea is all from the one tea plantation in Kenya.

These drinks are also letting consumers know that they are healthier than previous RTDs. Some are incredibly low calorie, and low sugar, a far cry from RTDs of previous generations. Many have adopted an all-natural approach, with no artificial ingredients, and have limited processing. Cranes is one such example with their range of cranberry drinks, where the alcohol comes from using brewed crushed cranberries only.

What is the appeal of an RTD? Sometimes, depending on the venue,  a full-bar setup is not an option, but you want to give the consumer variety, and that’s where this new generation of RTDs step in. They offer the consumer something as convenient as a can of beer, but offer choice, innovation and interesting flavour combinations. Take Wild Elderflower Spritz, which is a gorgeous combination of elderflower, perry and gin. And sometimes, even if you have a fully stocked bar, a drink that is just perfect and consistent every time your pour it out, is a thing of beauty. It removes the variables such as the ability of the person behind the bar to mix a good drink, and it also means you can take your favourite drinks from your nights out, and enjoy them at home on a Sunday lunch as most RTDs are readily stocked in major supermarket chains.

So next time you’re ready to shun those three little letters, RTD, know that they are changing and are delivering on the most important front: the taste.

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Classics Making a Comeback

Phil Harding’s thoughts on the beer scene’s next move…

‘I am a great believer that everything in life goes in cycles, and the world of beer is no exception. Over the past thirty years we have seen the rise and rise of a new wave of brewers. A new generation of breweries started in the US in the 1980s as a ripple, and this has now turned into a global tsunami, shaking up the whole industry, effecting traditional family owned breweries as well as the multi-national giants. This new generation of breweries took old English beer styles and gave them a make-over with an all out assault on the senses – stunning aroma hops to the fore.

picture of monk brewing beer

These hoppy versions of English pale ales and IPAs have taken the beer world by storm and have introduced a whole fresh generation of people to the wonders of beer. It’s not just pale ales that have received attention, but stouts and porters have also seen a resurgence, as millenials fall in love with exciting flavours. New British, Belgian, Danish, Italian, Australian – the list goes on – breweries have sprung up in their hundreds, serving these interpretations of old styles, usually with a lot more personality and flavour than their forbears. Beers packed with flavour, however, do not necessarily translate into balanced tipples, and overly hopped brews can cover up a multitude of defects as can beers which have over-pitched yeast. There are many examples of beers that are brewed by exuberant characters who have not grasped the art of balance.

Although these issues may give the brewing revolution a slightly negative tone, the overall message is one of positivity, and here at BBB we are convinced that after working through some of the new generation brews, people will continue their beer journey to the absolute classics of the beer world. The styles of beer honed and refined over the years by Belgian brewers, like Westmalle, are jewels of the beer world and should be seen as our versions of the wine world’s French classics. Balance, drinkability, ability to be drunk nearer ambient temperature and effortless pairing with food, are signs of a beer that has great pedigree.

As the price of hops sky rockets due to demand out stripping supply, I am sure that we will see a lot of brewers being forced to brew beers that are less about hop-punch and more about balance and flavour. Classic beers like Belgian trappists have not seen the growth that some of their newer cousins have experienced in the past ten years, but I’m sure we will see an upsurge in demand for them in the coming decade.’

 

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