As the recognition of gin has exploded in recent times, so has the success of its ubiquitous associate – tonic water. However, as SB discovers, progressive mixers at the moment are trying to department out.
*This function was initially revealed within the September 2018 challenge of The Spirits Enterprise
Tonic water will ceaselessly be synonymous with gin. However as a few of Europe’s largest premium producers eye progress alternatives, are ties to the juniper-based spirit limiting their ambitions?
In accordance with the newest figures from The Wine and Spirit Commerce Affiliation, worth gin gross sales within the UK grew by 33% final yr. With such speedy development, which extends to quite a lot of different nations, commentators have warned that the spirit’s bubble seems set to burst. If the naysayers are right, it appears logical for tonic producers to faucet into different classes, comparable to whisky, rum and Tequila.
“The category can expand but we definitely have to think outside of gin,” says Sigrid Bachert, managing director for advertising and gross sales at German tonic producer Thomas Henry. “In Germany, the gin category is still small. It started to grow five years ago and now it is in a good position, but it’s not as big as categories such as rum. For tonic sales to keep growing you have to find a way to get out of that strong gin connection, and that’s what we are working towards.”
As mixer producers look to align themselves with untapped classes, many have begun experimenting with flavour. Sugar-laden flavoured vodka might have fallen out of favour with shoppers, however different sectors are becoming a member of the craze, and the previous 12 months have seen the whole lot from scorching cross bun-flavoured gin to coffee-infused rum hit the market.
The tonic world is not any totally different. From an Oriental Yuzu expression launched by botanically brewed tonic model Fentimans to a basil-flavoured variant from newly launched mixer maker Lamb & Watt, tonic flavoured solely with quinine merely doesn’t reduce it anymore. One model that’s utilizing its information of flavour to attraction to a large spectrum of spirits drinkers is The London Essence Firm, which was created by Britvic-backed incubator outfit WiseHead Productions in 2016.
Ounal Bailey, co-founder of the model, says: “We started out with the idea that it would be nice to pair our tonics with lots of different styles of gin. But as we went on we realised that not only were we able to do this, we were also able to accentuate flavours in spirits such as vodka, mezcal and Tequila.”
The model’s present portfolio consists of: a basic tonic water; a grapefruit and rosemary-flavoured expression, stated to work nicely with bitter flavours and apéritifs; a bitter-orange and elderflower bottling, which enhances rye-heavy vodkas and reposado Tequila; and a ginger ale. Bailey provides: “Our range allows bartenders and people at home to discover new recipes that they might not have tried.”
Fever-Tree can also be hoping to seize a slice of this demographic with the launch of its newest product. The premium tonic producer has partnered with Bacardi-owned Tequila model Patrón for its newest launch, Fever-Tree Citrus Tonic Water. The brand new expression has been created to enrich the Tequila’s flavour and consists of botanicals corresponding to Key lime, Tahitian lime, tangerine and bitter orange.
“This is an incredibly exciting collaboration,” says Fever-Tree cofounder Tim Warrillow. “Consumers are searching for authenticity, taste and substance, and both our brands have these shared values and joint ambitions. Provenance and using the highest-quality ingredients are integral to us both and that is why, in developing our Citrus Tonic, we travelled across Mexico to discover the passionate producers growing the finest citrus fruits enabling us to create a mixer to perfectly complement Patrón Tequila.”
Creating mixers to attraction to totally different spirits is clearly a key focus for a lot of of Europe’s largest manufacturers. Final yr, Thomas Henry unveiled its Espresso Tonic, which mixes tonic water with cold-brew espresso from South America. “The focus of our Coffee Tonic is not on mixing with gin,” says Bachert. “The coffee taste matches with bitterness, so we would use it with Campari or Jägermeister. But it also matches very well with the sweeter, caramel tastes found in rum and in whisky.”
In addition to producing new flavoured expressions, some manufacturers are innovating within the totally different codecs tonic water can take. International Manufacturers-owned Franklin & Sons sees potential within the ready-to-drink market, and the model just lately partnered with London-based gin maker Portobello Street to launch its personal canned gin and tonic. Jen Draper, head of selling at International Manufacturers, says: “Putting a well known and well respected craft London gin and a well known, well respected craft London tonic water into a can has been great and it is definitely something that we are looking to expand on in the future.”
The opposite choice for manufacturers chasing innovation and progress is to department out into new mixer varieties. Fever-Tree, Fentimans, Thomas Henry and Franklin & Sons all supply expressions resembling lemonade, cola, ginger ale and ginger beer. Rose Cottingham, senior innovation supervisor at FeverTree, says: “In 2016 we launched our cola in the UK, and it was the first in the market designed to be a mixer. It’s made with 12 botanicals and they were all picked to perfectly complement the flavours in dark spirits. When you look at global spirits sales, gin accounts for 6% while whisky makes up 60%, which puts the potential of dark spirit mixers into perspective.”
The model furthered its goal of capturing the darkish spirits market with the launch of spiced orange and smoky ginger ale bottlings. In accordance with Cottingham, the spiced orange ginger ale enhances Scotch, rum and Cognac, whereas the model’s smoky ginger ale pairs nicely with Bourbon and blended whisky.
With such ample examples of diversification, it’s clear the world’s tonic makers are preventing to attraction to a wider demographic. To create these improvements, producers have drawn on the wealth of data discovered within the on-trade. “
Creating new flavours could be a collaborative course of, with many individuals concerned,” says Bachert. “We always work with bar professionals – unlike some companies that work with consumers and ask them what they want. Our focus is always on mixing.”
The identical is true for Franklin & Sons, which works with bartenders from “hotbeds of bar innovation” resembling London, Manchester and Glasgow. FeverTree has additionally proven its help for celebrity bartenders – certainly, the primary individuals to obtain bottles of the model’s new Citrus Tonic Water within the coming weeks will probably be previous and current members of the Patrón Perfectionists Cocktail Competitors.
After analysis and improvement, Draper believes manufacturers ought to prioritise advertising how their merchandise work with different spirits. She says: “Vermouth and tonic, Sherry and tonic, white Port and tonic – they’re all big serves on the Continent, and we’re starting to see these serves coming through in the UK. It is something that we’ve really focused on with the Dual Flavour Collection, which we launched recently.”
Launched this yr, Franklin & Sons’ Twin Flavour Assortment is a variety of tonic waters that consists of: Rosemary & Black Olive; Pink Grapefruit & Bergamot; Rhubarb & Hibiscus; and Elderflower & Cucumber expressions. The road is focused in the direction of fashionable lengthy serves, comparable to vermouth and tonic.
One other of the yr’s largest imbibing developments has been the rise of no- and low-drinks. From low-abv cocktail menus to alcohol-free spirits hitting the market, this scorching development is one thing that mixer makers are eager to discover.
Cottingham says: “While we very much position our tonic waters as mixers, we know that a lot of consumers are drinking them as soft drinks too. They’re also popular in lower-abv serves and with non-alcoholic spirits, which are proving to be a really exciting opportunity for us from an innovation perspective.”
The potential of low-abv serves hasn’t gone unnoticed by different manufacturers both; for Franklin & Sons the market throws up quite a few new events for shoppers to take pleasure in its merchandise. “The innovation around low and no is something we have our eyes firmly on,” Draper says. “We already have our soft drinks range, as well as the tonics and the mixers, and we want to enable bars and restaurants to pair them more easily with food. We have seen people start to swap their traditional alcoholic drinks with their evening or lunchtime meal, so for soft drinks there is now a greater focus on matching them with food.”
As new developments proceed to work within the favour of the mixer class, London Essence Firm’s Bailey concludes that the buyer now has the facility to dictate what tonic water producers ought to do subsequent.
She says: “For the slightly more discerning consumer and the younger market, the future is going to be about flexibility, variety and options for what they can do with some of these products. The mixer category will go beyond tonics, and it will start to become more about a breadth of spirits and enjoying these mixers on their own. This means there is still quite a lot more room in the category to manoeuvre.”
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