Herbal Bitters: covering all bases

04 January, 2023

“Our latest innovation is Becherovka Unfiltered, the ultimate expression of premium herbal liqueur, which we achieve by skipping part of the filtration phase of Becherovka Original,” says Polak. “We have multiple new innovations in our product development pipeline, and are always exploring and building on current and emerging consumer trends, such as the appetite for natural products, or consumption convenience on the go.”

The latest from Denmark’s Gammel Dansk aims to bring new consumers to the brand. Gammel Dansk Halvbitter tones down the original Bitter Dram’s distinctive bitterness and adds a touch of additional sweetness with honey and raw liquorice. The company also produces Gammel Dansk Shot with chilli and liquorice, also based on Bitter Dram and also toning down the bitterness.

When Schierker Feuerstein added to its portfolio in 2019, it had the aperitif moment in mind, while still aiming to remain true to its core product.

“Schierkuja tastes like passion fruit, but has its own character because of its genuine Schierker Feuerstein base,” says Brökers.

In Chicago, CH Distillers has taken inspiration from those who were ageing Jeppson’s Malört in a variety of barrels, and made an official version, ageing the original for a year in ex-bourbon barrels. The brand also teamed up with local breweries during the pandemic to turn surplus beer into a base spirit for a special-edition Malört.

Attracting new consumers

Category leader Jägermeister has launched its share of new products in recent years too, such as premium offering Jägermeister Manifest, and Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur. New products like these help to bring new consumers into the category, as well as to strengthen the position of brands, and help them to tap into current trends. But NPD isn’t the only way to achieve this.

“We have a strong focus on recruiting new, young consumers – Gen Z – and on meaningful storytelling on social media and ATL. At the same time we invest massively in experiential marketing, driven by a strong demand for physical experiences, for instance with our Jägermeister Night Embassy,” says Eichel. “In parallel, we have taken our first steps into Web3/metaverse, and continue our strong engagement with nightlife communities, from first aid during the pandemic to providing safe spaces for freedom of expression.”

Malandrakis confirms: “Jägermeister was among the companies that really supported the on-trade during the bleakest days of the pandemic. It’s showing it’s not resting on its laurels, and continuing to keep in touch with this community. ”

Another brand that works closely with the on-trade is Fernet-Branca. “In the UK we have built awareness by driving advocacy through global activation initiatives, and supporting distribution and visibility across on-trade cocktail and shot menus,” says Raggett. “Fernet-Branca is popular as a shot with the on-trade, and has a special connection with the hospitality industry, supported through global activation such as The Barback Games and the yearly release of custom FernetBranca challenge coins.”

Herbal bitters might not neatly tick all the boxes when it comes to current drinking trends, but activity like this, alongside new products from established and new players alike, ensures that there continues to be a place for them.

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