Spirits Raise the Bar at Vinexpo

Spirits brands from across all the growing categories were out in force at last week’s Vinexpo, giving buyers the chance to taste, see and enjoy the next big thing coming to a back bar soon.


Leading the charge were the number of new whisky and whiskey brands at the show, reflecting the growth in a category that Vinexpo and IWSR research predicts will keep growing with Scotch whisky set to reach 93.8 million 9-ltr cases by 2020, up on 87.7 million cases now.

Scotch and US whiskies combined are expected to be the best-performing international spirits categories between 2016–2020, with consumption of bourbon set to rise from 39.5 million cases (in 2015) to 46.5 million cases in 2020.

But it is Irish whiskey which really is booming in some markets. Connor Booth, brand ambassador for the Walsh Distillery that produces “The Irishman” range of single malts, said: “The interest is just so big. Asia and Africa are among the leaders but the Middle East and Latin America also want to drink whiskey. We are in 45 international markets and Irish whiskey is one of the fastest growing in the world.”

The Walsh Distillery’s own expansion plans re ects the expected growth with plans to move from an 800,000-bottle capacity distillery to one that can produce 8.5m bottles a year.

Ireland’s The Shed Distillery was also at the show and hosted a masterclass on “The Irish Spirits Renaissance”.


One of the stand outs in the bourbon section was Earl Hewlette of Terressentia and owner of O Z Tyler Bourbon from Kentucky. He has patented an ageing process that reduces the time the spirit spends in barrel to as little as six months. The cost saving of doing so is huge. He was able to show this new Terrapure ageing at the show.


Premiumisation is very much the driving force of the rum category with more premium brands on the market.

But it is also about being able to tell a story, like with Dzama Rhum of Madagascar which has a vintage going back 33 years. Dan Bastien, marketing director, said the rum’s unique avour comes from using wild grown sugar canes rather than farmed crops common in most major brands.
“This is the ylang-ylang of our rum – the particular factor that gives our canes grown here a different personality, of taste and avour,” he said.

Sovereign Brands from the UK were also at this show with its range of premium, craft produced lines including Bumbu, Belaire and Cloud Chaser which are now sold in over 100 countries.
Sophie Lawrence, brand manager, said it had enjoyed a busy week. “Our brands go all over the world. At Vinexpo, it’s like the world is coming to us!” she said.


One of the biggest launches at the show was Taiga Shtof, a super-premium vodka made in Siberia with 100% Alpha Spirit (the highest grade of alcohol) and the purest water sourced from three different locations in the icy Taiga region of the country. The distillery dates back to earlier than the Russian revolution.

Roman Gazine, joint founder said: “We chose Siberia to give Taiga Shtof appellation authority – the first vodka brand to do this. Shtof is the original unit of measurement, 1.23ml, that has been used in Russia since the 12th century. Each of our bottles gives 10 measures, or shots, of 1.23ml. Using the craft approach, we are raising the level of production of Russian vodka to a new level.”


There was a large delegation of 23 sake brewers and five sochu distillers at this year’s show thanks to the efforts of the Japanese Sake and Sochu Producers Association. It was a big opportunity for them to showcase the best of what is happening with sake and sochu that is gaining more listing particularly with sommeliers looking for something new.