The liqueur category has experienced impressive growth across the on- and off-trade in the UK over the past year, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) most recent market report. Combined sales of liqueurs in both sectors totalled a whopping £1.2 billion in 2018.
The WSTA attributed the increase in liqueur sales to the UK’s growing thirst for cocktails – and the all-powerful force of social media.
‘[The growth is] partly down to Britain’s long, hot summer when tall cocktails over ice were a welcome relief in the heatwave,’ commented Mike Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, ‘but the liqueurs boom has also been influenced by people sharing cocktail creation trends on social media with consumers keen to recreate these drinks at home.’
Indeed, the demand for liqueurs showed itself most prominently in the off-trade, particularly during the summer months. Over this period, British consumers bought more than four million bottles of non-cream liqueurs, up 56% on the same time period in 2017.
The WSTA pointed specifically to herbal bitter liqueurs and red-orange aperitifs mixed with sparkling wine as popular choices during this time.
The on-trade also saw an increase in the value of non-cream liqueurs, up around 3% (£20m) over the past 12 months. The WSTA reported that the last quarter was the fifth in succession that the liqueur category has topped £800m in on-trade sales.
Liqueur launch highlights of 2018
The past 12 months saw a flurry of liqueurs hit the market, contributing to the growth outlined by the WSTA. Here are a few picked by the Imbibe team you may have missed…
Berry Bros & Rudd Coffee Liqueur
Wine and spirit merchant Berry Bros & Rudd is getting its buzz on with the addition of a coffee liqueur to its own-label range. Made in London in partnership with Thames Distillers and Union Coffee, the liqueur is produced using a cold-brew method for less acidity and more sweetness.
35% abv, £26.50/70cl, Fields, Morris & Verdin
Released last summer, Campari’s Cask Tales expression sees the classic bitter aged in bourbon barrels to lend a delicate oaky smokiness to the liquid. Upon tasting, Imbibe detected sweeter vanilla notes layered onto the typical sharp bitterness of Campari.
25% abv, POA, Campari
The latest release from Boudier is a mustard liqueur flavoured with Burgundian brown mustard seed. The liqueur was created by Boudier competition winner Maria Viera, and is recommended for use in an unconventional Blood Mary or Collins.
20% abv, £14.95/50cl, Master of Malt
Mrs Cuthbert’s British Gin Liqueurs
Any discussion of liqueur launches would be remiss if it didn’t mention the variety of highly Instagrammable technicolour gin liqueurs that hit the market this year. With flavours like Victoria Sponge, Blueberry Muffin, Rhubarb & Custard Crumble and Black Forest Gateau, the Mrs Cuthbert’s range exemplifies the distinctly non-juniper gin liqueur trend.
20% abv, £12.95/50cl, Master of Malt