3 Take-Aways From Imbibe 2019
This year saw the 10th anniversary of Imbibe Live, the UK’s leading drinks & hospitality trade event. With hundreds of exhibitors, thousands of visitors, quite a few free samples and plenty of insight, me and my co-founder Paul Brennan went along to have a look! You might not expect what we found…
1. The Rise of No and Low Alcohol continues:
It was interesting to see the number of no and low alcohol stands rise 500% this year with established brands like Sassy, the super stylish French low alcohol cider and newcomers Gemelli, a beautifully packaged range of delicious tonics from Italy standing out in an increasingly competitive market.
Interactive presentations from the Pernod Ricard BEAT team challenged the audience to redefine their expectation that taste and flavour equal higher ABV with some surprising results! We particularly liked the obscure Philips of Bristol’s Lovage alcoholic cordial and a new favourite the Lillet spritz. Also, journalist and Saturday Kitchen presenter Jane Parkinson provided an insightful masterclass in no and low alcohol wines that are specifically targeting a more health-conscious consumer.
2. Wellness and Mindfulness
Although a trend clearly linked to the rise of the no and low alcohol category, it was fascinating to see a sharp increase in more holistic wellness products and brands. There were four exhibitors dedicated to Kombucha, one of the fastest growing soft drinks in the UK. The lightly and naturally carbonated fermented tea drink has gone ballistic in the US and looks set to be the next big thing in Europe. We really liked the Suffolk based LA Brewery’s Strawberry and Black Pepper Kombucha and some of the more traditional flavours of Green Sencha and Darjeeling Black from the UK’s oldest Kombucha brand, Go.
Building on the Wellness trend, Dead Mans Finger’s Hemp Rum has done things its own way with their ‘in your face’ CBD infused spirit. Surprisingly you could really taste the hemp in the product and we’re sure it’s going to go down well with a new generation of rum drinkers. From the level of investment in out-of-home advertising around east London is anything to go by, Halewood thinks so too.
3. We’ve not yet reached peak Gin!
Not unsurprisingly the number of gin brands doesn’t seem to have diminished from the previous couple of years. With Gin still the fastest growing spirit in the UK and Europe (with 54 new gin distilleries opening in 2018) the breadth of new and exciting brands is continuing to make the world of gin a real explorer category. What does seem to be driving engagement in gin is the increased complexity and scarcity of the botanicals used and the authenticity and distinctiveness of the brand’s provenance. From ingredients as diverse as bergamot, olives and birch sap to the fjords of Iceland and the rugged coastline of Cornwall, the enormous range of choice is growing and doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon.