The best things from Bar Convent Berlin 2019

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

15 October 2019

Last week, Imbibe headed to Germany for the annual Bar Convent Berlin trade show. What did we find over 72 hours? Read on

Industry insight

  • Spiced rum might be the next gin This year’s Bar Convent Berlin (BCB) Country of Honour was Mauritius and an entire building dedicated to rum – House of Rum – left nobody wondering what the spirit focus for this year’s show was. During a rare quiet moment, former bartender and now global rum ambassador Ian Burrell spoke to Imbibe about what he thinks the future of the spirit will be. ‘Spiced rum is the new gin… just imagine the spices as botanicals.’ As well as using the same language as gin, it can be served in a similar way too. ‘It works really well in long drinks with tonics and premium soft drinks,’ Burrell adds. It’s particularly native to Mauritius, where spiced and flavoured rums are its specific strong point – and with more being produced there at a time when the category is being spoken about industry-wide, Burrell has some advice for those companies rushing to produce it: ‘Walk before you run.’
  • US craft spirits are on the rise Bartender-turned-Diageo master of whisky and now director of brand advocacy for Samson & Surrey, Kyle McHugh, took the stage for his seminar on the origins and future of whisk(e)y. His stats on the rise of craft spirits were particularly enlightening. In August 2018, there were 1,835 craft spirits producers in the US, up 15% from the previous year, with a whopping 200%+ rise in market churn.
  • There will be a growth in RTDs, sustainability and localism The first morning’s press conference saw former bartender turned director of education Angus Winchester speak of the future of the industry, and where he sees growth over the next 12 months. ‘I think RTDs and sustainability are going to be particularly big this year, as we’ve already started to see,’ he commented. ‘There will also be a continued growth in localism,’ he added, drawing on the influence of rum as a category to inspire other spirits to look more closely at their origins.

Top tastes

  • Belsazar Riesling Slushy The Diageo-owned German aperitif was doing some rather fine – and fun – things with its ever-expanding range of vermouths. Our favourite was the Riesling Slushy. Taking the lead from the addition of dried pineapple in the vermouth’s recipe, the serve combined pineapple juice, Zacapa 23, coconut milk, coconut water, agave syrup and coconut syrup. The result: having tasted the vermouth by itself, its creaminess was accentuated by the coconut milk, while the acidity of the Riesling perfectly balanced the sweet notes coming through from the pineapple juice and agave syrup. Deliciously quaffable.
  • Kyro Dairy Cream It may be best known for its award-winning Napue gin, but the cooler-than-cool kids at Kyro Distillery Company have made what might be this imbiber’s favourite cream liqueur. Made using local milk and cream, the distillery’s rye whisky and rye spirit distilled with vanilla and liquorice is lactose free, ideal as a sipping liqueur or in coffee, and is surprisingly light compared to its more famous counterparts.
  • Gimber Made from Peruvian ginger, lemon, spices, herbs and cane sugar, Gimber was created as an alternative to alcoholic drinks, adding to the gamut of no-abv offerings out there. The concentrate is versatile and, frankly, delicious. It has a big, fiery ginger flavour, with a spicy kick that’s mitigated by a light sweetness. Creator Dimitri Oosterlynck recommends it with Green Chartreuse – we can’t wait to give it a try. 
  • Cut To The Smoke Rum It may have launched over a year ago, but considering how exciting the rum category is entering the tail end of 2019, this smoked rum is as relevant as ever. Eschewing the traditional pinup/pirate/sea monster branding of a lot of rum in today’s market, the paired back ‘cut the crap’ look of Cut Rum is refreshing – and the liquid is delicious. This smoked expression takes 3yo Jamaican rum and infuses it with Arabica coffee beans and tobacco. The liquid is smoked by condensing smoke from oak chips and results in a liquid that is smooth, rich with leather and dark chocolate notes and delicious in a Rum Old Fashioned. 
  • Paragon Cordials We’ve already expressed our gratitude towards Alex Kratena and Monin for creating these new, single botanical cordials, but we felt it was right to include them on this list if only for its presence at BCB showing us how the rest of our industry is reacting to it. Judging by the constant flow of visitors to its stand, we think they liked it. Our favourite tasted along was White Penja, but it was Timur that we preferred in a serve with vodka. Herbal and woody – with crushed Timur pepper to garnish – it may just be a new staple in our drinks cabinet. 
  • Havana Club’s Professional Edition C & D As if Kratena isn’t busy enough, he has been involved with Havana Club’s Asbel Morales and Quixotic Projects’ Carina Soto Velasquez to create two new bartender-only rums which were launched at the show. Edition C is a gold rum, created to surprise bartenders due to its reputation as being ‘generally underrated’, and is heady with butterscotch, tonka and marzipan – not to mention a whopping 50% abv. Edition D is a white rum with an aged base and is fresh and fragrant, with a hint of salinity.

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