DIgestif Blog

From the crystal ball

10 August, 2018

Few days before writing this article, i came across an old piece by Robert Parker, written in 2004, in which he made 12 bold assertions about how wine would look by 2015.

How far we have come

06 August, 2018

About 15 years ago, while I was the editor of Whisky Magazine, we teamed up with cutting-edge bartender Nick sSrangeway to hold a whisky cocktail competition, encouraging the use of Scottish single malt whisky.

Dubai airport-based retailer Le Clos’ partnership with the macallan has to be one of the most successful operator-supplier relationships in the history of duty free liquor.

How do you market a region? it’s hard enough getting a message right if you’re a one-man band or family firm processing a single or handful of opinions.

A while ago i was walking through Glasgow Airport when I saw a bottle of single malt on offer.

Pride and protection

27 June, 2018

Protectionism. It's a word that has been beyond the pale in the mainstream discussion of politics and economics of the past 30 years.

Twenty five years ago, when I was the features editor at The Publican newspaper, I went with an actor friend to see how pub licensees responded to complaints from customers.

It’s one of the worst PR disasters to have hit the duty free industry in the almost two decades i’ve been covering the business.

Voting in this magazine’s redoubtable annual awards for the world’s most admired wine brands has forced me, as it does every year, to think about the subject of wine brands properly for a change.

Whisky goes off-piste

26 March, 2018

If you want proof that alpine whisky is set for its place in the sun, then you need look no further than the 2018 alpine whisky competition held in February.

Vineyard vs winemaking

19 March, 2018

What is the most important component of a wine brand? What makes it what it is, or, put another way, what can it not do without?

A mixed bag looking ahead

19 February, 2018

There is a refreshing sense of optimism surrounding the travel retail business which I haven’t seen for quite a few years.

And so it came to pass. After years of legal wrangling led by the Scotch Whisky Association and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins, among others, the UK Supreme Court has had its final say, allowing the Scottish government to go ahead with its policy of setting a minimum price for alcohol.

London Gatwick may not be the most exotic travel retail location for a brit such as myself.

One of the biggest bugbears for any liquor brand wanting to build a presence in duty free is the high cost of entry.

A true taste of climate change

01 December, 2017

Sensitivity to weather and climate is the very core of wine’s appeal.

It’s whisky week

29 November, 2017

Last week, Distell announced that its Bain's Cape Mountain single grain whisky (40% abv), has gone global. So now we have a whisky form South Africa to join the slew of whisky alternatives to good old scotch.

In Cannes last month as I dashed around from stand to stand and from interview to interview amid a whirl of product launches and cocktail parties, I heard one question asked over and over again.

on 31 October, 2017

Anybody read Jeremy Clarkson in Sunday's Sunday Times (Oct 29)? I know he is right of Genghis Khan and has a tendency to thump people who don't organise a plate of steak and chips for him. But I defend his right to be totally politically incorrect, to write what many people think but increasingly daren't say - and, by the way, he can write and can be extremely funny, sometimes.

Choose your wine flight

23 October, 2017

I once had a colleague who said he chose to fly long-haul flights with United Airlines Because at the time –

The thorny issue of airport drinking has once again hit the UK headlines at a particularly bad time for travel retail.

Most studies suggest they're considerably better for the environment. They’re more convenient, too, if you want to keep your wine fresh for more than a couple of days.

"I’ll have a couple of passion fruit Martinis, love. Actually, make that four."

Clooney tunes

14 August, 2017

Have you heard the one about George Clooney’s four-year-old tequila brand selling to Diageo to the tune of $1bn?

Couple of months back Sam Smith’s Brewery in Yorkshire, England, issued an instruction to its 200 or so pub managers to refuse to serve customers who swore in their pubs.

When I first arrived here I was the whisky man who was making gin as a sideline,” says Daniel Szor, founder and owner of the Cotswolds Distillery, which lies close to Banbury in the no-man’s land between the west, the south and the middle of England.

For the best part of two decades the western duty free business has looked east, pandering to the whims of the emerging mainland Chinese traveller.

Tourism is an increasingly important part of the wine business.

A year ago I tentatively suggested the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership might have enormous ramifications for the European travel retail business.

Chalking up success

05 June, 2017

I’ve always been amused by old pubs, bars and restaurants which have the words ‘fine ale, wine and spirits’ or similar painted on their wall or written across their window.

The end of craft?

12 May, 2017

If you want to know where the spirits industry is headed, you could do worse than look at beer.

Most wineries go out of their way to tell you how natural their wines are.

It is one of the most pressing issues facing the travel retail business today.

A few years ago, just after the british government had deregulated the gas industry, I spoke to a marketing director tasked with targeting pubs and clubs.

It was rock guitarist Frank Zappa who famously said: “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline.

Love the sound of hyperbole in the morning. So how about this? Ireland has the world’s most exciting and dynamic drinks market right now. I know, I know…that’s some statement. So let’s see how it stacks up.

Looks can be deceptive

24 March, 2017

At the beginning of the year, British supermarket Sainsbury’s quietly introduced a new Chilean wine brand.

In November 9, 2016, an historic change happened in the us that could have far-reaching ramifications for the wine industry.

By even the soberest of assessments it’s been a crazy few weeks since Donald Trump began his presidency.

Few years ago I attended a press conference hosted by the new chairman and deputy chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association.

In the family

21 February, 2017

Like the Mafia and Royalty, the wine trade sets a great deal of store by the concept of family.

It's a safe bet that a recovery of the Asian market was on the New Year’s wish list of pretty much everybody who has a stake in the duty free retail business

Don't look now but there are stirrings of rebellion on the Twittersphere as online whisky lovers rail against escalating single malt whisky prices and say ‘enough is enough’

on 31 January, 2017

Diageo’s announcement that it is re-entering the booming Irish whiskey sector with a brand new brand, Roe & Co, caught most of us by surprise.

For reasons I won't bore you with here, I spent the month leading up to Christmas visiting some of England’s finest pubs and bars

When doomed British mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Everest, his now legendary answer was “because it’s there”

As the new year gets underway there’s a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the travel retail liquor business

I was never top of the class at maths at school. The teacher only had to mention the dreaded ‘m’ word and start writing numbers on the board and my eyes would glaze over

Ringing the changes

08 December, 2016

Dom Roskrow tries to make sense of the last twelve months 

on 30 November, 2016

So, Danish brewer is spending £15m on revitalising its flagship Carlsberg Export brand (see news story) and at the core of activity is emphasising the company’s Danish origins.

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David Williams

From the crystal ball

Few days before writing this article, i came across an old piece by Robert Parker, written in 2004, in which he made 12 bold assertions about how wine would look by 2015.

Click for more »

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