StateWays - March/April 2017

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | March/April 2017 39 O ne of the defi ning aspects of the drinks industry these days is a thirst for the new and the novel. Especially on-premise, bartenders are fi nding ev- er-more creative ways to combine spirits and mod- ifi ers into new taste sensations for curious consumers, as well as scouring the globe for new spirits to experiment with and add to their toolkit. Those on-premise explorations often lead con- sumers to replicate those intriguing cocktails at home, driving them to retail stores searching for bottles of hard-to-fi nd spirits. "Most of the time customers have had a cock- tail out at a bar, and then they come in looking for the spirit so they can recreate it at home," says Tim Finch, spirits buyer at Zachys Wine & Liquor in Scarsdale, N.Y. Which spirits are emerging in the U.S. market? Industry ob- servers and retailers nominate players in six categories as cur- rent contenders to be the next big thing in on- and off-premise: mezcal, pisco, cachaça, poitin, shochu/soju and baijiu. Savvy retailers are already stocking their shelves just in case. "I want customers to come into the store and discover some- thing they haven't tried before. I can't do that if I don't have the product to sell," says Edward Mulvihill, managing partner and director of sales and marketing at Peco's Liquors in Wilm- ington, DE. The small retail store stocks at least one SKU in of each emerging categories. "Not all of those spirits categories are fl ying off the shelf, but for the customers who are looking for them, they are happy to fi nd them here," he adds. "Mostly we are seeing the younger consumers, aged 21 to 40, looking for these and other new spirits categories," says Ryan Bolton, spirits specialist at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, Calif. The family-owned, 60-year-old business keeps up with the trends and stocks multiple SKUs of all six categories. "A lot of the interest is fueled by the craft cocktail community," he says, noting that the emerging categories that do best have an indigenous signature cocktail, citing the Pisco Sour and cachaça's Caipirinha. Many of the emerging categories seem to have piggybacked onto a related category. Tequila and Mezcal are an obvious example. "Mezcal seems to feed off Te- quila," concurs Bolton. Retailers take advantage of these synergies when shelving, displaying mezcal next to Tequila, cachaça by rum, and poitin in the Irish whiskey section. "Most of the time, these items are a cross-sell," Mulvihill says. "An Irish whiskey guy is looking at the shelves, and we ask, have you tried poitin?" Cross-cultural fertilization can be another factor in the pop- ularization of some spirits. "Consumers are traveling and getting excited about these spirits, and bring them back to share with friends," notes Morgan Robbat, vice president of marketing for Anchor Distilling Company. She also cites the popularity of eth- nic cuisines, such as high-end Mexican and Peruvian, in the U.S. EMERGING SPIRITS ARE POISED TO TAKE CENTER STAGE IN THE U.S. Wings Waiting in the Wings Wings by THOMAS HENRY STRENK

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