Last month saw a number of drinks producers move into new categories, including Scottish group William Grant & Sons with its low-alcohol Atopia, and The House of Botanicals with its debut in the pink gin market.
Meanwhile, American rock band Slipknot teamed up with the Cedar Ridge Distillery to launch a new whiskey, and Bacardi released a coconut-flavored rum.
Click through the following pages to explore our full round-up of exciting spirits launched in June.
A Song of Ice and A Song of Fire
Available to pre-order in the US, the new blended Scotch whiskeys will launch in the US this August and globally in October.
Johnnie Walker’s Twitter account teased the release of A Song of Ice and A Song of Fire whiskeys yesterday with a short video.
The bottle design for A Song of Ice features an image of a dire wolf, while A Song of Fire depicts a dragon.
A Diageo spokesperson said: “We are excited to announce that Johnnie Walker and HBO will be releasing two new Scotch whiskey blends in honor of the enduring legacy of Game of Thrones.”
Details of the new whiskeys “will be released in the coming months” and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The expressions are named after the series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, which was adapted by network HBO into the popular television series Game of Thrones in 2011.
The new bottlings were released as part of Diageo’s partnership with HBO, which began with the launch of a blended Scotch whiskey in October 2018, called White Walker by Johnnie Walker.
It was followed by the launch of a range of single malt Scotch whiskeys earlier this year, in celebration of the eighth and final series of Game of Thrones. The collection features eight whiskeys, each matching one of the show’s Houses of Westeros, as well as the Night’s Watch.
The much-anticipated series finale aired on 19 May, with a planned prequel series in the works under the working title of Bloodmoon. Johnnie Walker A Song of Ice and A Song of Fire are available to pre-order on reservebar.com for US$43 each per 750ml.
William Grant moves into low-alcohol with Atopia
Atopia is made from “natural” distillates, flavors and extracts, and is available in two variants: Spiced Citrus and Wild Blossom.
Created by Lesley Gracie, Hendrick’s master distiller at William Grant & Sons, Atopia’s flavor is attained through natural distillation and botanical extraction to “build layers of taste complexity and sophistication”.
Gracie aimed to “create an accessible yet special flavor profile to elevate the moderated drinking experience”.
Atopia Spiced Citrus is said to reflect “the tastes of the seasons” with notes of “zesty citrus” and “gentle spice”. It is recommended served with Indian tonic water and garnished with an orange slice.
Meanwhile, Atopia Wild Blossom is described as “green apple meets floral notes with a hint of smokiness” and is best served with Mediterranean tonic water and a slice of green apple for garnish. A glass of Atopia and tonic contains 75 times less alcohol than a standard gin and tonic.
“Atopia is a special liquid that uses our distilling and blending expertise to create a new generation of spirits,“ said Gracie.
“Inspired by the more mindful, lifestyle choices of today’s consumer, the exquisite liquid comes in two perfectly balanced flavors. “We’ve used our distilling heritage and expertise to ensure no compromise on flavor is experienced when drinking the ultra-low alcohol spirit. The flavor is full, from first taste to finish.”
The Atopia range is available across the UK this week from Sainsbury’s, Ocado, and G1 bars in Scotland. It has an RRP of £25 (US$31.75) per 700ml. William Grant & Sons join a number of brands who have moved into the burgeoning low-alcohol sector in the past year. In June 2018, Diageo-owned Gordon’s created two “ultra-low-alcohol” pre-mixed gin and tonic sparkling beverages. Non-alcoholic ‘spirit’ Seedlip launched a new apéritif brand this year, which is thought to be the world’s first non-alcoholic apéritif range. Diageo also brought out a low-abv botanical range for its Ketel One Vodka, while Glen’s Vodka released two flavored spirits each bottled at 20% above February this year.
Last month, Scotch whiskey maker Whyte & Mackay launched 21.5% abv Whyte & Mackay Light.
Compass Box unveils The Circle whisky
The new expression, called The Circle, is named after Compass Box’s bartender program. The initiative was formed last year “to connect the creative processes of the blending room with those of the bar trade”. Compass Box founder Jon Glaser said: “It is our way of bringing together like-minded creators who love to do things differently.
“But this isn’t about industry experimentation behind closed doors. These expert bartenders are set a range of challenges to test their creativity.” The winner of the program, bartender Rosey Mitchell from London’s Three Sheets, was prized with the opportunity to create her own limited edition Compass Box whiskey.
The Circle is a blend of Scotch malt whiskeys, including a base of single malt from Speyside’s Tamdhu Distillery, which was matured in ex-Bourbon barrels. The “fruity and creamy flavor profile” from Tamdhu is supported with malt whiskey from Brora in the Highlands aged in refill Sherry butts, a lightly-peated single malt from Orkney, aged in re-charred hogsheads, and a small proportion of a Highland malt blend finished in French oak casks. The final product has “an apple, vanilla, and malty notes” followed by a hint of smokiness on the finish.
“I wanted to make an approachable whiskey to be shared with friends,” said Mitchell. “I wanted something you could share in the daytime, something with brightness.
“It could be served as a vibrant summery Highball in the garden – sunshine whiskey. For me, I say enough of the ‘whiskey in dark bars’ mentality.” Bottled at 46% abv, a total of 6,151 bottles of The Circle have been released worldwide with an RRP of £120/US$150.
It is available in the UK and selects international markets from June 2019, and in the US from July 2019.
Bacardi expands flavors with coconut rum
Exclusively available in Asda from 20 June, Bacardi Coconut is a blend of Bacardi’s classic Carta rum and coconut flavors. The new expression follows the release of Bacardi Spiced earlier this year, and Bacardi Ginger in 2018. According to the brand, “global demand for flavored rums continues to rise”. “Sales in the rum category are an all-time high, having surpassed the £1 billion [US$1.27bn] mark last year [in the UK], and this has been largely led by the flavored rum segment,” said Tine Van Nevel, brand director – Europe, Bacardi rum.
“The response to our previous flavored rums has been overwhelmingly positive and we are certain that Bacardi Coconut will be a welcome addition to the ever-growing Carta portfolio.” Bacardi Coconut will be available in 700ml bottles at an RRP of £16 (US$20). The brand recently expanded its flavored offering in the US with the launch of Bacardi Lime.
Oto creates alcohol-free CBD cocktail bitters
A single measure of the bitters delivers an effective daily serving of 50mg of CBD, which is a non-psychoactive extract from the hemp plant. CBD is renowned for its stress and anxiety-relieving properties. Oto’s CBD Bitters are alcohol-free and were developed by a team of industry experts, including food scientist Dr. Ketan Joshi, former Sipsmith founding director Antonia Jamison, Oto managing director Gemma Colao and DMD Ventures CEO James Bagley.
The cocktail bitters have been made with botanical extracts that complement the effects of CBD, such as licorice, which is widely used in Chinese medicine to help stress; cardamom, regarded for its antioxidant properties; and cacao, which improves mood, calmness, and contentment. Oto CBD Bitters are said to have a herbaceous flavor profile with citrus notes and a floral hint. Jamison, director of Oto, said: “The drinks market is entering a really interesting stage where the non-alcoholic alternatives are now just as exciting and complex as their alcoholic counterparts.
“However, just because people are adopting a more balanced approach to drinking, doesn’t mean that they don’t need a bracer to help them unwind and socialize. This is where Oto’s non-alcoholic CBD bitters come in. “At Oto, our aim is to create the world’s finest CBD experiences. Sadly, too many products on the market contain ineffective levels of CBD to have any real impact, which is why we spent a lot of time determining the optimum strength.
“Adding Oto’s CBD bitters will help people to feel ‘at the moment’. It’s not about losing yourself, it’s about connecting to the present, the experience and the people around you.”
Oto CBD Bitters is available in the on- and off-trade and is available to pre-order now from otocbd.com for £98 (US$125) per 100ml bottle.
Slipknot launches ‘farm-to-table’ whiskey
Slipknot and the Iowa-based distillery have launched the “farm-to-table” whiskey ahead of the release of the band’s latest album, We Are Not Your Kind. Made with a mash bill of 56% corn, 36% rye and 9% malted barley, the expression uses corn grown on the Cedar Ridge family farm.
The “sweet and spicy” whiskey is available in bottlings at 45% and 49.5% abv to produce a “bold flavor” and create a “more robust, complex sipping whiskey”.
Michael “Clown” Crahan, co-founder of Slipknot, said: “Slipknot and Cedar Ridge Distillery – two groups of people born and raised in Iowa, and committed to quality and hard work. We collaborated on No 9 Whiskey, which in addition to Iowa corn, gets some extra spice from its rye content. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Live life, and always be safe.”
The new whiskey will be available in two variants, No 9 Iowa Whiskey (45% abv), which will retail for US$39.99, and No 9 Reserve Iowa Whiskey (49.5% abv), which is priced at US$69.99.
No 9 Iowa Whiskey will be available from 10 August at select retailers in all 50 states in the US and at the band’s headline Knotfest Roadshow North America tour. Slipknot is the latest brand to release a whiskey brand, following Metallica who launched Blackened American Whiskey in 2018.
Glenrinnes unveils Eight Lands gin and vodka
Father and stepson team Alasdair Locke and Alex Christou co-founded Glenrinnes Distillery, which features 5,400 square feet of space. It is located at the foot of the Ben Rinnes mountain in the Speyside region of Scotland. The name ‘Eight Lands’ was inspired by the eight counties that can be seen from the top of Ben Rinnes, weather permitting.
Eight Lands spirits are made using organic ingredients, including some botanicals that are sourced from the Glenrinnes estate. Farming on the estate has been organic since 2001. The distillery features a 1,000-litre pot still called Rebecca, named after Christou’s wife, as well as two 10-plate rectifying columns. The production team comprises Meghan Murdoch, operations manager, and Katrina Stewart, distiller.
Murdoch has been part of the team since the start of 2018 and has more than 25 years’ experience in the drinks industry, covering everything from production and sales to brewing, winemaking, and distilling. This will be Stewart’s first distilling role since completing an MSc in brewing and distilling from Herriott Watt University.
Christou said: “I genuinely believe we have created something special with our organic vodka and gin, and I’m really proud of the team at the distillery for the hard work and passion that they have put into this.
“We have ambitious plans to build the Eight Lands brand globally in the months ahead and I know that my family and our production team are incredibly excited about sharing our spirits with both the UK and other markets.”
Eight Lands Organic Speyside Gin has been bottled at 46% abv and will be priced at RRP £39 (US$50) per 700ml bottle. It is said to have a “big juniper” aroma, with pine and citrus, leading to tart red berries and citrus.
Eight Lands Organic Speyside Vodka has been bottled at 42% abv and will cost RRP £37 (US$47) per 700ml. It is said to have notes of marzipan and vanilla pods on the nose, leading to butterscotch and coconut on the palate.
Echo Falls White Wine and Coconut Rum Infusion
Part of the Echo Falls Fusions range, the new product is a blend of Echo Falls white wine and a ‘rum fusion’, with coconut and pineapple flavors. It is bottled at 9% abv and targets two key audiences: 30+ females juggling work and family life, and under 30 ‘experiencers’ who “value new and exciting products”. The launch also aims to capitalize on the growing popularity of rum in the UK, which surpassed sales of £1 billion (US$1.27bn) last year.
‘’Echo Falls is once again bringing a refreshing and innovative flavor experience to the market, with strong consumer appeal and a new and exciting sales opportunity for the trade ahead of the summer,” said David White, marketing director at Accolade Wines, owner of Echo Falls. “This is a unique product for people who like the idea of wine but prefer a sweeter style and easy drinking experience.’’
Echo Falls White Wine and Coconut Rum Fusion follow the release of Echo Falls Rosé Wine and Gin Fusion in March this year. The new launch is priced at £6 (US$7.60) for a 750ml bottle, with listings in Morrisons, B&M, and Bestway from June.
In addition to the wine and spirits Fusions range, Echo Falls has launched a berry-flavored vodka and pink gin.
House of Botanicals combats ‘ bastardization’ of pink gin
Made with the addition of seasonal Scottish raspberries, House of Botanicals Raspberry Old Tom Gin was developed to “bring some balance” to the pink gin category. Production of the new gin begins in London with a distillation of juniper berries, angelica root, orris root, coriander seed, cassia bark, almond, orange peel, and lemon peel. The gin is then transported to the brand’s facility in Aberdeen where saffron and raspberries are macerated in the liquid.
To finish, the gin is lightly sweetened with cane sugar and diluted to a bottling strength of 47% abv.
House of Botanicals Raspberry Old Tom Gin is described as being “lightly sweetened and botanically rich” with a “big punch of juniper at its heart”.
The brand developed the new bottling following the “bastardization of true pink gin” and out of a desire to “show that gin can still be true to its origin whilst possessing a subtle hint of natural raspberry flavor”.
House of Botanicals Raspberry Old Tom Gin is available to buy from the distillery with an RRP of £31.95 (US$40) per 700ml bottling.
Villa Massa debuts basil-infused limoncello
Villa Massa Limoncello Basilico is made from Sorrento lemons and infused with fresh Mediterranean basil. The combination of citrus and herbal flavors is said to offer a “fresh aroma that evokes the atmosphere of their shared terroir in the Mediterranean”. Described as a “perfectly balanced after-dinner experience”, the new 30% abv expression is best served very cold, directly from the freezer “to enhance the aromas”. Zamora Company International managing director Thomas Clemens said: “Villa Massa is a pioneering brand and the launch of Villa Massa Limoncello Basilico connects with its culinary and craft heritage.
“As a crafted, premium product, Villa Massa Limoncello Basilico builds visibility for the brand in-store and will appeal to existing limoncello fans as well as other liqueur drinkers.” Packaged in 500ml bottles, Villa Massa Limoncello Basilico will be available this summer, initially in the Netherlands, Italy, and the Italian duty-free market.
The Villa Massa brand is distributed in more than 50 countries across five continents and claims to be the market leader in the premium limoncello segment in Spain, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, and Brazil.
In November 2017, Zamora Company acquired limoncello brand Villa Massa after buying the shareholding of brothers Stefano and Sergio Massa for an undisclosed sum.