Here are five innovations and trends in alcohol that we should all be expecting to appear or gather speed in the next few months and years.
The way we consume alcohol is constantly changing. I mean, we still drink it – there’s no other safe way to get it into our bodies. But the types of alcohol, the way we buy it and why we consume it is a constantly evolving creature.
You can track these changes over the centuries pretty easily, and it’s fascinating how things have moved.
The history of cocktails on its own is surprising.
Since the turn of this century, we’ve seen all kinds of things become popular in pubs, bars and people’s fridges. Weird shots and the fall of alcopops, Redbull, Jager and espresso martinis, the resurrection of Chardonnay and the waining of the mighty muscular Shiraz.
And as we push through the pain barrier of 2020, we see new and interesting drinks trends filling our glasses and pushing older trends to one side.
5 fascinating drinks trends
We’ve spoken to a few people in the drinks industry and here are their predictions… and we may have added a couple of our own!
One over-arching direction we see drinks trends going is in search of ‘betterment’. This is the sweet spot in the Venn Diagram of ‘things that make me feel good’ and ‘things that are good for me’.
And these five trends fit that model pretty well.
Possibly the biggest disruptor in any industry is one that mixes two existing things to make a new one. It’s like a cross-pollinator of trends and shifts paradigms sometimes permanently.
Products like the remarkable Sympatico Double Hopped IPA Gin from Stone Pine Distillery in Bathurst, NSW do just that.
Craft distiller Ian Glen has worked with nearby Badlands Brewery, combining the already healthy new trends of small batch Australian gin and craft beer to create something that blurs edges everywhere.
Ian has infused this gin with lemondrop and motueka hops, which match the other botanicals of lemon myrtle, coriander, angelica and of course juniper beautifully. Meanwhile, the Badlands beer uses these same botanicals from the gin in their beer. It’s a genius combination.
Another distillery doing something similar is Westward Distillery in Oregon in the USA. Originally a craft brewery, the whiskey from this distillery is using beer hops in its mash that eventually becomes American single malt. It’s a wonderful drop.
2. Environmentally friendly options
With worrying times ahead for the planet, finding new ways to be environmentally friendly will change the landscape of many industries.
Round Theory wines have worked hard to create a product that does just that.
These unusual, stumpy bottles use less glass which has an amazing impact. Still holding 700ml of wine (don’t worry, they’re not ripping you off!) these bottles reduce the CO2 output in manufacturing and, because they’re lighter and smaller, you can carry more units when freighting.
It’s quite a challenge to change how people ‘see’ a wine bottle, but the environmental angle and the cool artwork could make this a trend-setter.
The packaging process is based on a drink-now process vs being able to age this wine, which isn’t new. Most wine these days is made for consumption within a week of purchasing.
This is a New Zealand company, so the Pinot Gris is more aromatic than its drier Aussie counterpart. Watch this space for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir additions to the Round Theory portfolio.
3. Pink spirits in pursuit of rosé wine trends
Rosé wine has already seen an amazing transformation in popularity in recent years, and spirits are following suit.
Quite possibly the first to chase the rosé phenomenon was Warners with their rhubarb pink gin, which is delicious.
But taking things a step further – and maybe even pushing the boundaries into the category-breaker realm, Swedish vodka brand Svedka have done something astounding.
The Svedka Rosé incorporates three massive trends into one.
Svedka is already the number-one selling vodka in the States, so it’s off to a good start. Its pink hue is another. But the colour – and a lot of extra flavour – comes from the rosé wine they’ve added.
The wine is five-times distilled, which removes impurities that can be associated with hangovers and also maintains the clarity of the liquid, but the wine edge to the vodka still remains.
Adding sparkling water makes a good summer spritz, or equal parts Svedka and lemon juice with a touch of sugar syrup creates more of a cocktail.
To be honest, this isn’t really my cup of tea, but the pull towards younger drinkers is massive. This vodka is also lower in alcohol at only 30% ABV, which leads me into the next burgeoning trend…
4. Lower alcohol drinks
Low and zero alcohol wine is becoming so popular, even with brands like Seedlip producing alcohol-free gin. It’s a challenge that brewers, wine-makers and distillers have been toying with for at least 15 years, but until now they’ve not really hit the mark.
Most breweries now have really good low-to-no alcohol beers available, and wineries like State of Light have nailed it too.
State of Light use a new technology of de-alcoholising wine in a spinning cone, which removes ABV but not flavour. They then blend full-strength wine back in to bring the finished product back up to 7%ABV.
Why 7%ABV? It’s all about perception. This figure still says this is real wine but with moderation. It’s that betterment balance coming into play.
There are currently three varieties available from State of Light – a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a Hawks Bay Pinot Gris and a 100% Merlot Rosé also from Hawks Bay, which is excellent and very drinkable. We didn’t notice the lower ABV at all.
5. Drinking local
For those of us wanting – and expecting – more from our drinks, there’s never been a better time. Especially in Australia.
The quality of beer, wine and spirits coming from the small producers around the country is exceptional. And the good thing about small, craft operators is how agile they are. Something big brands tend to lack.
Aussie firm Nip of Courage – a craft company in its own right – deals with some of the best craft distilleries in Australia (perhaps even the world), who make ridiculously good gin, whisky, rum and other spirits.
The likes of Timboon Railway Shed Distillery in southern Victoria, where the brilliant distiller Josh Walker makes a beautiful Aussie single malt whisky (my current favourite is the port expression version, but the original is amazing too).
You can read more about Josh and – Ian Glen from Stone Pine Distillery – in a story we wrote a little while back.
Everyone’s looking to drink more Aussie-made products at the moment, so cast your eye over Nip of Courage’s online store. Its virtual shelves only stock Australian small-batch spirits.
And I think this is at the very heart of a wonderful trend we wholeheartedly believe in.