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Liqueurs boosting ‘craft’ credentials

Liqueurs boosting ‘craft’ credentials

Taking its cue from gin and whisky, the liqueurs sector is utilizing pure components, provenance and small-batch manufacturing strategies to flee the doldrums and assume a brand new premium picture.

*This function was initially revealed within the August 2018 problem of The Spirits Enterprise
The liqueurs sector has seemingly been reborn. In years passed by, liqueurs suffered a shared status, nevertheless unfairly, of being stuffy, sickly and one­-dimensional. The class’s number of types and flavours have been stigmatised and under-appreciated, and plucky crowd-­pleasers corresponding to gin, Tequila and Bourbon hogged the limelight. However now, various shopper developments are working in its favour – amongst them demand for low­-alcohol options, basic cocktails and heritage manufacturers.

As shoppers and bartenders present extra curiosity in provenance, liqueurs are speaking distinctive artisanal narratives and assuming an altogether extra premium picture. The class may even be thought-about cool once more. “In the past, liqueurs has been less dynamic than other categories,” says Julian Fernandez Estevez, international advertising director for spirits at Zamora Firm, the household­-run agency that produces Spanish liqueur Licor 43. “We are now trying to operate in the opposite way and bring excitement to the category by developing new liquid, which we hope will intrigue consumers. If we look back to how things were 10 years ago, even two years, the liqueurs sector is completely different now.”


One of many huge developments in liqueurs has been a shift to pure elements which might be extra complicated and fewer cloying. As Mark de Witte, CEO of Dutch group De Kuyper, places it: “Bartenders and consumers want more than just a bit of colour and sweetness.” The transfer additionally responds to a widespread shopper revolt towards sugar. Whereas in line with EU regulation most liqueurs should include a minimal of 100 grams of sugar per litre, pure elements give manufacturers a more healthy picture.

“The category has evolved a lot, and has definitely improved,” enthuses Paul Bungener, international model ambassador at Truthful Spirits, which solely makes use of Truthful Commerce­-certified elements in its spirits vary, which incorporates six liqueurs. “Based on consumer demand, brands have been spending a lot of time working on flavours and trying to create liquids that are not as heavy and viscous as those that we used to have.” As well as, he sees that extra gamers are utilizing “unusual fruits” of their recipes to encourage bartenders to combine artistic new serves.

The redesigned De Kuyper vary

Pure elements additionally give liqueur manufacturers higher alternative to speak their provenance – one thing that has turn out to be inherent to the advertising campaigns of premium manufacturers in additional superior spirits classes. The provenance message is especially pertinent to espresso liqueurs, whose speciality beans boast intriguing tales of unique geographies.

In line with de Witte, there’s nonetheless “more to be done” to reinforce the ‘craft’ credentials of liqueurs, however key gamers are taking necessary steps. De Kuyper has dramatically decreased its namesake vary from 43 to 23 expressions to each make it simpler to navigate and assist the model keep away from a “commoditised” picture. The vary relaunched this yr with new designs that aimed to distinguish between De Kuyper’s ‘essential’ merchandise – corresponding to triple sec and blue curaçao – and ‘variations’ – resembling strawberry and watermelon.

“Quite frankly, if you have a range of 30, 40, 50 or 60 liqueurs, all with the same packaging except for the colours and the name on the label, it’s not sending the signals of craft, artisanal uniqueness – it’s more commoditised,” says de Witte. “That’s exactly what we want to address with the new positioning of the range.”

Regardless of the class’s new premium push, Bungener spies an ongoing problem for liqueurs: do shoppers truly know what to do with them? “This is a question we get asked a lot when we do tastings in stores,” he says. “Everyone’s experienced the same thing – they find something they like on holiday, they bring a bottle home, and then they realise two years later that the bottle is still closed and getting dusty in their cupboard.”

Fair Spirits produces Fair Trade-certified liqueurs

Truthful Spirits produces Truthful Commerce-certified liqueurs

To compound the issue, Bungener says that most of the signature serves for liqueurs – notably basic cocktails – are too daunting for a lot of shoppers to make themselves, and in addition lumber them with further prices for extra utensils and components. One reply, he says, is for liqueur manufacturers to advocate extra primary drinks. It will empower shoppers to discover new merchandise and permit manufacturers to promote greater volumes. “The Spritz trend means you can just add your liqueur to some bubbles and it’s a winner,” he says.


In fact the model that has turn out to be synonymous with the Spritz is Aperol, however Bungener believes its reputation has benefited liqueurs. He says bartenders have turn into considerably tired of the favored orange serve, and so more and more advocate that buyers attempt a special base product. “Bartenders want something that falls under the same idea but that they can put their own touch on with unusual ingredients,” he claims.

Fernandez Estevez additionally believes shoppers are beneath­educated relating to liqueurs, and says the class’s number of flavours and types makes it notably troublesome to understand. “Liqueurs are not homogenous,” he says. “If you look at the different sub­categories, Jägermeister is completely different to Campari and Licor 43. Variations of liqueurs make it more complicated for consumers to understand. So explaining things that matter to them, like natural ingredients, is important.”

As such, Licor 43 has undergone a “big change”, in accordance with Fernandez Estevez, and is now extra open about its “secret formula”. The truth that the product is made with 43 pure elements, which the marketer says many individuals didn’t know earlier than, will turn out to be extra central in its communication with shoppers. “Millennials want to know more and more about ingredients, so we agreed with the family owners that we could be more open about our liquid,” he says. “The family will always keep the full recipe secret – that’s not going to change – but they allow us to share with consumers and our trade partners a few ingredients. We understand the trends, so this year for the first time we are communicating why we are so complex by explaining more about our production methods and ingredients.”

Fernandez Estevez says that buyers’ means to know the liqueurs class has developed because of the gin growth, likening using botanicals in gin manufacturing to pure fruits utilized in liqueurs. “Generally speaking, gin is creating more interest in botanicals and natural ingredients, which is what liqueurs is all about,” he says.

A variety of liqueur producers consider that their class has benefited from gin’s windfall extra broadly, since many in style gin cocktails require a splash of one thing candy. As well as, profitable artisan gin manufacturers, similar to Pickering’s Gin and The Lakes Gin, are becoming a member of the liqueurs class with vibrant line extensions, opening up the chance for gin­-based liqueurs to offer a twist to the ever present G&T. The blossoming pink gin development additionally exhibits that buyers are eager to experiment with sweeter flavours.

De Kuyper unveiled Bébo coffee liqueur last year

De Kuyper unveiled Bébo espresso liqueur final yr

De Kuyper has added a string of latest merchandise to its secure over the previous three years to execute its technique to ‘own the cocktail’. The ambition has seen the group purchase manufacturers and develop new expressions to go well with newest cocktail developments. As an example, it acquired the historic Cherry Heering model to pair with the Singapore Sling, and created the Bébo espresso liqueur in home “with the best Espresso Martini in mind”, says de Witte. He provides that De Kuyper will launch two improvements this yr, whereas two extra are “in the pipeline” for 2019. The Dutch group can also be catering to the on-­commerce by standardising the abvs in its ‘variations’ vary to 15%. It will imply bartenders may give cocktails a flavour twist with out altering the measures.

Bartenders have all the time been key to the success of liqueurs because of the class’s symbiotic relationship with mixology.

One other model ramping up its efforts to focus on the on-­commerce is bitter liqueur Riga Black Balsam, owned by Amber Beverage Group. “Our strategy is to grow Riga Black Balsam brand awareness among bartenders to promote this brand as a perfect component for modern mixology,” says Māris Kalniņš, international model director, who sees that natural bitter and liqueur drinkers are shifting “from a shot-­consumption pattern to mixed drinks”.

The model is an official companion of the Worldwide Bartenders Affiliation and has launched its personal competitors – the Riga Black Balsam International Cocktail Problem – to interact with the on­-trade. The primary occasion will happen in November. Riga Black Balsam is aiming to launch “at least one innovation” yearly, both as a restricted version or everlasting line extension.


Innovation can also be necessary to the expansion technique of French group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits, whose namesake liqueurs date again 260 years. “If the liqueurs category wants to stay in tune with consumers’ expectations, it has to reinvent itself and regularly offer new concepts, as other more expanded categories have done before,” believes Stanislas de Parcevaux, group chief advertising and digital officer. “With the rapid evolution of the mixology phenomenon, it is essential for a liqueur maker to inspire bartenders and allow the cocktail world to continue to evolve – in the same way as chefs in gastronomy.”

Lately, Marie Brizard added yuzu, bergamot and kaffir lime flavours to its line, and launched the “low­-sweetness” Essence vary for bartenders, which incorporates flavours comparable to rosemary, jasmine, dill and Sichuan pepper. “It will always be difficult to predict what will be a sustainable success in the future,” admits de Parcevaux. “Consumers are always looking for new sensations and trends can fly away so fast.” He predicts liqueurs with uncommon mixed flavours would be the subsequent essential development, resembling espresso and spice or herbs and citrus.

With intense experimentation, continued premiumisation and the good thing about beneficial shopper tendencies, it’s an thrilling time for liqueurs. Certainly, the power for the class to grow to be as critical as different extra established spirits within the eyes of bartenders and shoppers is extra attainable now than ever earlier than.

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