Jungle Juice

11 March, 2016

The liqueurs sector is like a jungle: full of different creatures. It’s a diverse environment where the one thing they have in common is a broad category classification. Christian Davis explores


IT IS QUITE DIFFICULT TO DEFINE a global trend for the liqueurs category. It is such a large universe with an ongoing flow of innovations, says Mario Molinari, the third generation of the brand which claims to be the global leader in the sambuca category.

Running the Molinari business with his brothers, Inge and Angelo, he is chief operating officer, as well as business development manager.

He says: “The long-established sub-categories of liqueurs have been affected by the incursions in the liqueurs universe of flavoured spirits, mainly flavoured vodkas and, more recently, flavoured whiskies, which are appealing to the taste of the liqueurs consumers.”

Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits’ global travel retail director Kevin Baker rejoins: “Liqueurs brands tend to go in and out of fashion from decade to decade, but they always feature prominently in the world of mixology.

“Another resurgence in cocktails – and the revival of many historic, traditional and classic recipes – has created renewed interest in the liqueurs sector. The iconic Marie Brizard Anisette Fine liqueur, dating back to 1755, has thus seen a resurgence.”

According to IWSR statistics, the liqueur category is up 1.7% CAGR (compound annual growth rate, by value) over the past three years (2012-2014). The US and Germany are the largest markets, growing respectively 6.3% and 2% CAGR (by value).

On the one hand you have behemoth brands such as Diageo’s Baileys, Rémy Cointreau with Cointreau and Pernod Ricard with Kahlúa and Malibu.

On the other there are large, more regionally-based companies such as Mast-Jägermeister, with its eponymous shooter brand, Underberg and the likes of Molinari and Rossi D’Asiago.

Then there are the little guys, with small regional/local brands still drunk traditionally as chasers or digestifs.

Among those categorised as liqueurs, some brands vehemently fight the label, which seems to have been handed them because of their traditional image as staid, traditional tipples, only drunk in small measures at the end of an evening, essentially by older people.

Rémy is fighting hard to align Cointreau with luxury and A-list personalities while courting bartenders to make sure its iconic triple sec brand is on the speed rail as a key ingredient for cocktails. Meanwhile, Drambuie has been trying for some time to position itself alongside scotch whiskies as an alternative.

As for Campari, Gruppo Campari strives to keep it as, well Campari. A one-off, which essentially it is.


Coming on to the big guns, in its recent results for the six months ended December 31, Diageo reported healthy gains for liqueur giant Baileys.

In its category and brand review, Diageo posted 6% volume growth and   7% net sales growth for liqueurs. Specifically about Baileys, it states: “Net sales increased by 6%, mainly driven by growth in Great Britain and the United States. In Great Britain, Baileys net sales were up 14%, supported by increased media, sampling and in-outlet visibility and promotions during the holiday season. In the US the growth was driven by the launch of Baileys Espresso Crème.”

Keywords: liqueurs, Molinari

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