A show within the show

Be Spirits attracts an “eclectic depth of exhibitors”

Be Spirits by Vinexpo created a show within the show, designated specifically for spirits exhibitors coming together from across the world, including Canada, Tibet, Guatemala and Mexico.

The section attracted what organisers describe as “an eclectic depth of exhibitors” in Vinexpo’s first ever dedicated spirits area, ranging from UK-based Halewood Wines & Spirits – the first major spirit company to launch a CBD rum, “Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp” – to a Single Malt from Tibet specialist supplier, and an artisanal “Ancestral Mezcal” from Mexico.

“The product is the star” explained Jerome Delord of four-generational family distillery Armagnac Delord, founded in 1893. “All stands are the same size, and this helps the focus to be on the product.” The Infinite Bar running 50 metres down the length of the Be Spirits area was a popular attraction with its 20 mixologists coming from the most prestigious bars and hotels in Paris.

Be Spirits was also about conferences that were grouped under two themes (Be Mixology and Be Brand) with a series of conferences and seminars running daily throughout the show. They included one on Global Spirits Market Trends and another with a focus on the “No/Low Trend – why are alcohol-free spirits so popular?”

A number of industry trends were summarised and presented by Thorsten Hartmann, Director of Consulting at London-based IWSR (International Wine & Spirit Research) followed by animated audience discussion:

  • Global – the ‘Experience Economy’ with old established brands continuing to dominate
  • Ethical issue-drivers, e.g. packaging
  • Health Drivers, explosion in low and no-alcohol products as younger generation modify drinking habits which are becoming the norm (drinking by occasion rather than by habit) e.g. 0.5% gluten-free cider, BrewDog No-Alcohol Bar in central London, White & Mackay Light (whisky) at 20% ABV etc.
  • The Power of Plants – growth of CBD i.e. cannabis-derived products
  • The rise of contemporary spirits – producers starting to put their customers first and for example for whisky, dropping traditional ‘Highlands’ scenery, stags etc and Johnny Walker introducing ‘White Walker’ on the back of the popularity of Game of Thrones, deliberately targeting the younger generation drinkers
  • The rise of the Pre-mix / Batched Cocktail, which poses a threat to the individual brands as they are not specified in the mixes
  • Convenience or one-off expenditure vs value-for-money; 50cl spirits in sachets and tetrapak boxes
  • The rise of Hard Seltzers in the US (alcoholic sparkling water) which have damaged the wine market in the US, and pose a real threat to spirits market if they make international jump from the US

Photo: Be Spirits exhibitors at Vinexpo Paris 2020