Brandy cocktail being served

Spanish Brandy ups appeal

31 October, 2022

Innovation in the category is aimed at attracting younger consumers, especially through cocktails.

Brandy, in particular Spanish brandy, has seen a shift in consumers’ drinking habits and a demand for use in cocktails and mixology. The category, which has long been seen as old fashioned and not typically trendy or popular with younger generations, unlike rum or gin for example, is pushing innovation and quality as it grows in the global drinks industry. 

SPIRIT GROWTH 

According to the latest IWSR Drinks Market Analysis data, global Spanish brandy volume grew 3.6% and 9.7% in value in 2021. The category is forecast to grow by about 10% volume CAGR 2021- 2026, something that Osborne, Bodegas Williams & Humbert and Juan Torres Master Distillers are all experiencing. 

Valeria Morado, director of communications and PR for wines, brandies and vermouth at Osborne, says: “Spanish brandy has special organoleptic characteristics which differentiate it from other craft and premium spirits and, thanks to this, our brandies that are enjoyed in mixed drinks and cocktails, have augmented its growing popularity in countries like Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico and the UK. This is hugely positive for us and something that we are strategically focused on as a company, working with our portfolio of premium brandies (Carlos I and Brandy 1866) to help drive not just brand growth but also category growth.”

This growth is proving premium brandy to be trendy and fashionable, which many brands are noticing. Gonzalo Medina García de Polavieja, international marketing manager at Williams & Humbert, says: “Williams & Humbert has a long tradition in the production of Brandy de Jerez and we have always been committed to this category. In our case, we have very good prospects for growth in the Asian market with our Alfonso brand, specifically in the Philippines and also in the Arab Emirates, and with our Gran Duque de Alba in the United States, Germany, Italy, the Baltic states and of course the domestic market and the duty free channel.”

Juan Torres Master Distillers is building on this growth with a push to target the younger generation with innovation. “From our perspective, it is great to see that the choice we made a few years ago, to focus on recruiting new brandy consumers around the world, and change the perception of an old fashioned product that didn’t have much appeal to younger generations, is paying off,” says Christian Visalli, global spirits director.

“Therefore, we opted for an innovation-driven approach, trying to create excitement and category awareness among this younger segment with special editions such as the Torres 10 Barrel Series,” Visalli adds. 

The recent World’s 50 Best Bars which took place in Barcelona also boosted awareness of the category as Visalli notes: “It was great to see the crème de la crème of the worldwide bar and mixology scene come together in Barcelona. I am convinced that this will help the Spanish brandy category in general, as top bar keepers from all over the world were able to enjoy Spanish brandy in one of the world’s cocktail capitals.”

Carlos I brandy

INNOVATION 

With all brands pushing for innovation as the Spanish brandy category grows, Juan Torres Master Distillers’ Torres Alta Luz expression gives a glimpse of what the spirit can be, aside from its traditionally dark appearance. The crystalline brandy, made in Barcelona, is made traditionally using a double distillation process in pot stills and aged in French oak casks, but as Visalli explains: “The innovation comes after maturation, when the brandy undergoes a mineral filtration process that preserves its full flavour and character while eliminating the characteristic, oak-imparted colour.” This creates the crystalline expression, which came from years of experimentation by master distiller Matías Llobet.

Osborne has focused on innovation within mixology, as the brand works with bartenders to showcase the spirit in interesting cocktails. Morado says: “Mixology is a huge trend that is now being adopted by most brands within the category. Since Spanish brandy is an extremely versatile drink it is the perfect base for preparing not just traditional cocktail drinks but also more elaborate ones. In Osborne, and especially with Carlos I Brandy de Jerez, we are working with bartenders both nationally and internationally, to help push this trend and drive ‘liquid to lips’.”

Torres Alta Luz expression

BETTER DRINKING 

Category growth and innovation is complemented by a desire for consumers to drink better, not more, as noticed by Morado. “The Brandy de Jerez sector is undergoing a moment of change and at Osborne we are working to strategically position our premium and ultra premium brands to reposition the category. In addition, consumers want to drink better, not more, so that means we are moving in the right direction.” 

Brandy, like many other spirits, is versatile and has a strong place in the world of mixology. “Mixology has also filled cocktail bars with new customers who used to stay away from a scene deemed too elitist. In other words, it has opened up the market. We believe the world of cocktails is going through a golden era in Spain but the future requires the same kind of revolution that Spanish cuisine began 25 years ago,” Morado adds. “A growing number of renowned chefs with high profiles are highlighting the importance of cocktails as part of the entire dining experience, and we’re collaborating with them to offer an ambitious cocktail menu in their restaurants.” 

With high-quality cocktails in mind, García de Polavieja of Bodegas Williams & Humbert notes: “The future of the category is promising. We try to focus on the singularity of a spirit such as Brandy de Jerez, whose production process is unique in the world. That is the challenge. The remnants of the vine from which it comes is one and, in the case of Brandy de Jerez, our unique sistema de crianza gives it a distinction.”

“The importance of sherry casks is fundamental to the process of ageing our brandies. Not only because the butts are made of American oak, but more specifically due to the fact that it has previously contained some of our extraordinary sherry. In fact, these old sherry casks are highly sought after by the world’s finest whisky producers. We still need to make the consumer aware of the quality of this spirit,” García de Polavieja continues. This push for awareness for Spanish brandy and highlighting its quality and versatility will be aimed at the younger generations as brands hope to reposition the category.

Spanish brandy is using the idea of better drinking and building awareness of its place in mixology and within premium and above spirits. The growth it is currently experiencing is heightened by a desire from drinkers to branch out of their normal habits, as they enjoy intricate and elaborate brandy cocktails, with popularity for the spirit growing among younger generations.

As seen with Juan Torres Master Distillers’ Torres Alta Luz expression, there is also room for innovation. With consumer demand increasing, so does an interest in experimentation and new ideas for the spirit and what it can be. 





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