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Brand Genetics’ 10 Key Insights from Imbibe Live 2016

After absorbing (both metaphorically and literally) all the offerings at this year’s Imbibe Live – the go-to trade show for anyone in alcoholic drinks – we have ‘distilled’ things down into 10 future-facing trends. We met companies ranging from the little to the large, all bringing exciting innovations to the market, so here are some of the ones that peaked our interest, giving us a flavour of the future!


  1. Bolder Britain

Whoever said that gin was the preserve of London Town? With gin’s global explosion in recent years, other towns and cities across the nation are trying their hand at Britain’s favourite bath-tub beverage!

  • The husband and wife team at Cambridge Gin produce tailored and artisanal spirits to suit individual clients
  • ‘Distilled beside the seaside’, Brighton Gin is the first Brighton-based distillery
  • Thomas Dakin’s small batch Manchester Gin is now stocked at Knightsbridge’s Harvey Nichols; whoever said Posh Manc was an oxymoron?
  • Hailing from Belfast and named after the place it was once made, Jawbox is a colloquial term used in Belfast for the ‘bathroom sink’


  1. Pisco Power

While 2015 saw a surge in Mexican culinary cachet with more artisanal tequilas and mezcals than you could whack a piñata with, in 2016 it’s all about Peru! Fine Peruvian eateries are popping up all over Europe and to wash down a spicy ceviche, there’s nothing better suited than a Pisco Sour. Typically served in one of 3 ways – think of them as the 3 Cs: Clasico (classic recipe with simple syrup, lime, egg white and angostura bitters); Chilcano (the classic with a touch of ginger ale); or Capitan (the classic with red vermouth)

  • Macchu Pisco is a clever ‘pun of a pisco’ managed by Melanie Asher, 5th in a long line of female family members to distil their own pisco
  • Borrowing packaging and design codes from the premium world of single malts, Sarcay Pisco is positioned as ‘The Elegant Choice’


  1. Perfection over Provenance

Is the fall of ‘wine snobbery’ finally upon us? Perish the thought, maybe! But it’s fair to say that it’s no longer all about prestigious provenance. You don’t need to buzz off to Bordeaux to get your hands on a top Claret and the best Rosés no longer proceed from Provence. In their quest for perfectly balanced blends, winemakers are borrowing the best traditions from lands afar and re-locating them to greener pastures.

  • La Geria, Lanzarote, Spain. Lanza’s not all about girly getaways. Resourceful winemakers are making the most of the volcanic landscape to excavate vineyards that are more protected from the wind and provide optimal levels of humidity
  • In another corner of Spain – Galicia – lies the rich viticultural region of Ribeira Sacra where the high altitude enhances the effect of the sun during the day while providing freezing temperatures at night bringing more concentrated sugars to the grapes.


  1. Rum on the Rise

Rumour has it ‘what goes up must come down’. And we might just be seeing the early signs of the ruin of Mother’s Ruin. After a strong run at the top, it looks like London’s favourite spirit might be in for a battle with its Caribbean cousin. Rum expert Peter Thornton from Cellar Trends is tipping rum for a mini-explosion in the coming years, building on its steady growth since 2012 and taking inspiration from gin’s recent success. ‘An R&T, please!’ may well be the bar call for 2017.

  • The daddy of non-Caribbean rums, Don Papa is small batch and distilled in the foothills of Mount Kanlaon in the Philippines
  • Japan’s favourite rum Ryoma is aged for 7 years in oak barrels
  • Pinas, Punches, Daiquiris and Mojitos are all begging for a makeover


  1. Flavour Explosion

Whether it’s down to a more discerning palate or just an unhealthy obsession for all things ‘new’, the world has gone flavour mad. And much of the mixing, blending and pairing happening in haute cuisine is finding its way onto mixologists’ notebooks across the nation.

  • Monin’s classic Crème De Violette and their new Popcorn Syrup are but two of their 125 flavours!
  • Spice up a Bourbon with some of Real’s pumpkin puree syrup


  1. Ecstatic Energy

More than a mixer, 2016 is all about high energy bases which can be paired with alcohol or consumed as stand-alone pick-me-ups. However, unlike traditional energy drinks, these beverages will have you bouncing from wall to wall by harnessing the revitalising power of natural ingredients like ginseng and B12.

  • Designed to be paired with their premium vodka, North Sea’s pure mint, water and guarana energy drink is making energy
  • Already big on the Berlin night life scene, Mate Mate by Thomas Henry is a natural energy drink quickly becoming a cult classic among students, taking them from late night library sessions onto the dance floor
  • With a focus on sophisticated taste, Eon heroes ginseng, guarana and B6/12 as its active ingredients


  1. Pretty in Pink

Whilst natural colourings have been on the radar for a while, this year Imbibe appeared to truly harness the power of rainbow with natural neons appearing around every corner. However, one colour ROSE to the top… Pink! From revamped rosé to glowing cocktail mixers and even the hued spirits of modern pink gin…this is a shade made to stick.

  • Pinkster is a pink gin, coloured naturally with frozen dried strawberries
  • Poetic License picnic gin is naturally coloured with raspberries, perfect for that summer on the grass
  • Thomas Henry is a cherry blossom tonic brighter than bright and just begging to be mixed in a cocktail
  • After distillation Edgerton Pink Gin is naturally coloured pink and just waiting to be instagramed.


  1. Mix-Up Your Mixer

Building on the shoulders of Fever Tree, a range of brands are putting the mixer at the forefront of drinks innovation. Letting the big boys in spirts fight it out and being the ultimate peace maker, offering higher quality drink pairings, which don’t just complement but actually enhance spirits

  • Merchants Heart is not a mixer but a ‘spirit enhancer’, premium plus
  • Sparkling Ribena gives an adult twist on the childhood favourite for a nostalgic cocktail twist
  • Lucozade makes your sparkling childhood energy drink a premium mixer for a truly different taste
  • Thomas Henry’s authentic flavoured craft mixers from Berlin are taking the market by storm


  1. Blurred Boundaries

Re-packed to delight the senses, these beverages aren’t afraid to embrace codes from other categories to upscale, intrigue and in some cases introduce some tongue-in-cheek humour to the drinks bar.

  • Using Liquor 43 and cream these beer spirit shots are placed in miniature pint glasses to create a truly ‘pint sized’ shot
  • Blush Cider – from Cornish orchards these bottles of cider are designed to be a low alcohol alternative to wine at lunch
  • Savour have designed magnums of sparkling beer ‘brut’, a light sparkling beer with a champagne pop


  1. Best of Both

Balancing health goals with a relaxing evening drink is a tension of the modern era. But these pioneering products are designed so you can indulge without undoing the work of your morning green smoothie

  • Twisted Halo is a ready-to-drink coconut water aiming to rival the vodka soda and lime as a low calorie drink delight with a powerful modern mantra: “my life my way”
  • Health benefit drinks Belvoir Botanicals each have a specific health claim ie. fights off cold, skin balance and probably most usefully cure a hangover
  • Little Big Beer is a 2% beer full of flavour, designed for drivers and gym goers
  • Byedrink is an A B vitamin drink with honey to ‘say good bye to the hangover’
  • Sherry based cocktails are back, and the mixologists at Luxardo seemed think this is down to people’s quest for low alcohol drinks with maximum taste


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