Shoppers spent an additional €13.3m year-on-year on wine, with strong volume growth of 7.3%, according to Kantar's data

It’s the time of year when drinks parties, work parties and at-home celebrations become a near-daily occurrence. Drinks sales are about to take their annual spike, so we’re looking at some of the beers, wines and spirits that will be on shopping lists for the coming season


Brand Central

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19 November 2018

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It is party season, which means consumers and shoppers will be throwing caution to the wind when it comes to spending on those all-important ‘big shops’ – including stocking up the drinks cabinet! It’s vital to have everything ready to go between unexpected visitors, last-minute gifts and impromptu parties, not to mention Christmas and New Year’s!

What that means for retailers is a considerable sales spike. The take-home market has become crowded with craft and local beers and an ever-growing choice of wines and spirits. For example, there is strong competition between unique and esoteric gin offerings this year. What this also means is retailers must be more aware than ever of the latest products on the market to remain competitive.

With that in mind, this month in ShelfLife we’re delving in to what’s on offer this Christmas season, to bring readers a comprehensive list of the must-have drinks for all those parties.

Worldly wonders!

Hailing from the hills, bogs and shores of the Hebridean island of Islay, Botanist gin is made using no fewer than nine of the classic gin aromatics, including orris root, cassia bark, coriander seed and more. These are augmentedwith a heady harvest of local botanicals. Botanist is then slow “simmer” distilled in a unique and cherished Lomond pot-still, where the botanicals release their complex signature aromatics.

The result is a highly distinctive, complex, floral gin with outstanding finish and impeccable provenance. In an age of re-badged industrial gins, the Botanist stands out as a truly artisanal, small-batch, handcrafted labour of love and distiller’s art. A breath of botanical Islay in every glass.

Meanwhile, according to a recent industry report, McGuigan Wines continues to outperform the market, making it Australia’s number one wine brand. Chief winemaker Neil McGuigan recently won the International Wine & Spirits Competition award as “Best Winemaker in the world” for a fourth time – the only winery in the competition’s history to win the title four times!

McGuigan’s Black Label range comprises Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Rose and Malbec. McGuigan also recently introduced Frizzante to the market, made with the grape variety Glera – the same grape used for Prosecco. Frizzante is made in identical fashion to Prosecco, except in Australia! McGuigan

Frizzante is available in 750cl and 20cl distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

The distributor also offers the number-one selling bourbon in the world; a position that doesn’t occur overnight, but instead is an accolade earned over time. Jim Beam’s long history is a testament to its top-tier position. It was 1795 when Jacob Beam of Kentucky, USA, sold his first barrel of bourbon, laying the foundations for a family business that would last through the Prohibition era right through to today.

220 years of experience goes into every bottle of Jim Beam, along with corn, rye, malted barley, water, time, pride and of course, true passion. Add in four years of aging in new charred oak barrels, which give Jim Beam its distinctive taste. Some things never go out of style!


Winter lights

In a refreshing image shake-up in time for winter, Black Tower has launched three new bottle pack designs, which will come assorted in each case, offering unique visual shelf appeal for the already must-stock German wine offering.  Black Tower Fruity White is the brand’s most popular offering, offering a smooth and fresh white with a lighteasy-drinking taste.

To make the launch of the winter sleeve even more impactful and create interactive consumer resonance and engagement, Black Tower will be offering its 40,000-strong social media following the chance to jet off for a fantastic holiday in the sun.

Meanwhile, the brand is also responding to consumer demand for healthier offerings from alcohol brands. According toresearch, the past year has seen 15% growth in the low and no-alcohol offering. To reflect this, Black Tower is extending its product range to include a no-alcohol offering. Black Tower Deliciously Light boasts only 29 calories per 125ml glass (70% lower than a standard glass of wine) and 0.5% alcohol. Available in red, white, rosé and sparkling varietals, Deliciously Light is also competitively priced, helped in part by lower taxation due to its content.

The new range builds on the success of B by Black Tower’s 5.5% ABV assortment, a Slimming World-approved wine brand, which has enjoyed great success over the past few years and is now joined by the B Fruitful range.

The ‘B’ by Black Tower and B Fruitiful ranges boast 5.5% ABV and 55 calories per glass (50% fewer than standard wines). With only three Slimming World “Syns” per glass, and impactful branding, the B by Black Towerrange resonates with health-conscious, female Millennials. The highly refreshing B Secco White and Rosé (5.5% ABV) round out the range. With the brand positioned in a cool and premium way, B Secco provides the ideal combination of low alcohol/ low calories in a semi sparkling version, with the benefits of healthier living and a celebratory character, which makes it perfectly placed to capitalise on this major growth market opportunity.

G and tea!

Ireland’s love affair with gin continues apace this year, and a new offering brings it together with another of Ireland’s favourite drinks: tea! Blackwater Barry’s Tea Irish Gin is returning this year after selling out in retailers across Ireland during last year’s festive season. The innovative gin offering combines Barry’s Tea Classic Blend with Sicilian lemons, sweet Spanish oranges, juniper berries and cinnamon.

Barry’s Tea is one of Ireland’s best-loved brands. A cup of teais a daily ritual for most, and Barry’s is something that we send to loved ones abroad and pack in our suitcases going on holidays. Now, combining tea with gin for this offering is an innovative and exciting move that is sure to be a talking point among consumers.

Denis Daly, Barry’s Tea master blender, says that the comfort of home is one of Barry’s characteristics, especially among overseas consumers. “This is the perfect time to bring back our limited-edition Blackwater Barry’s Tea Irish Gin,” he says, “allowing people to enjoy the flavour ofBarry’s Tea in a completely different way.

“We are proud to work with Blackwater Distillery,” he adds, “which is a brand known for its craft in much the same way Barry’s is.”

Speaking of the special edition gin, Peter Mulryan, co-founder of Blackwater Distillery, said there is something about the way tea is distilled that inspired the brands’ collaboration. “The flavours of tea make it ideal for a winter cocktail or Christmas present,” he says. “Demand for Blackwater Barry’s Tea Irish Gin last year was high and we’re proud to bring it back.”

Old world charm

Having just launched this year, Chinnery Gin is a dry gin made in Dublin and Cork. Among its 10 botanicals are the definingOsmanthus and Oolong, are distilled individually at Chinnery Spirits’ Dublin distillery using a modern vacuum still, before being blended with the gin base in Cork.

The design of the bottle and label makes Chinnery an eye-catching choice for Christmas shoppers looking for something new and different. The Georgian townhouse featured on the label is sure to resonate with Irish consumers and is a unique Dublin gift for those abroad. With the Christmas market in mind, Chinnery Gin will be releasing a beautifully designed box for the off-trade, in addition to a gift set to include two 50ml Chinnery Gin miniatures and Poacher’s Wild Tonic & Poacher’s Ginger Ale, with suggested servings on the box.

Chinnery Gin is distributed exclusively by Celtic Whiskey Shop.

History class in a glass

A legend reborn, Conbec is the new gin on the block created and distributed by Barry Group and exclusively available in Carry Out off-licences nationwide. A premium gin botted at a robust 41.3% to ensure the true expression of the botanicals, Conbec is a smooth, warming gin that packs power with a rich, full taste. This classic gin offers a mix of spice, berries and zesty citrus notes in its unique taste.

Conbec Irish gin aims to capture the imagination of the nation with its innovative use of Irish folklore. It was founded with a fierce spirit and a clear objective: to offer a truly authentic Irish gin, firmlyrooted in the Irish culture. In third century Ireland Conbec was an Irish wolfhound was a loyal servant to King Cormac and Fionn, head of the armies and head of the hounds. He fought in epic battles and contributed to the success of this iconic duo.

For more information, visit or for on trade enquiries, contact

Sumptuous treats

Less than a year after it made its debut, Lambay Irish Whiskey is on sale in more than 26 countries and 10 Duty Free stores worldwide. It’s an exciting time for the brand, which blends the expertise of [brand owner] Camus Cognac with the art of Irish whiskey making.

To help promote the brand, The Restaurant at Brown Thomas in Dublin has offered a range of Christmas-themed foods using Lambay Irish Whiskey as an ingredient, along with locally sourced, fresh ingredients. They include Lambay Christmas Cake and Lambay Marmalade.

The Lambay Whiskey range includes two whiskeys: Lambay Small Batch, and LambayWhiskey Single Malt. Both are crafted using Lambay Island’s own Trinity Well water, and offer differing taste experiences. Lambay Irish Whiskey – Small Batch Blend’s RRP is €41/70cl. Lambay Irish Whiskey Single Malt has an RRP of €57/70cl.

Innovation and history

Launched in Ireland last year as what Jacob’s Creek chief winemaker Ben Bryant called a “super-premium offering”, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon is a premium red finished in whiskey barrels. The wine has achieved critical acclaim for its high quality and unique character. To craft Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel, the Jacob’s Creek winemakers start with rich, intense fruit from premium Cabernet Sauvignon regions.

This wine is matured first in traditionally toasted wine barrels, and then finished in aged whiskey barrels from Midleton Distillery. This unique double-barrel technique is a brand new innovation that breaks away from the traditions of winemakingwhile adhering to the spirit of generations of winemaking. The technique imparts additional layers of complexity, beautifully integrated tannins, and an incredibly smooth mouth-feel.

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel is a unique concept, pushing a new boundary of wine innovation. Available in SuperValu, Dunnes Stores and O’Brien’s nationwide.Winter warmers As the days get shorter and also just in time for the festive season, Boyne Brewhouse has launched its ‘Winter Warmers’ limited edition Irish craft beer range.

Both beers have been brewed as companions to the multi-award-winning Imperial stout, named ‘Best Beer in Ireland’. The brewing team looked to the brewing traditions of Belgium and England respectively for the beer styles, and all three embody the spirit of cold winter nights, good company and fireside conversation. Stoutseason beckons and the barrel aged Imperial Stout 10.8% sees the addition of a Belgian Dubbel 8% and a Winter Ale 8% to the Boyne Brewhouse limited edition 330ml bottle range.

Richard Hamilton, Boyne Brewhouse’s head brewer, said the brand takes great pride in ensuring it uses only the best ingredients. “We use our own Boyne Valley spring water in brewing all our craft beers,” he said, “and lot of time has been taken to experiment and perfect our recipes.

“The interesting limited edition styles we have released are testament to the quality of these ingredients, brewing styles and inspirations,” he said.

The Belgian Dubbel is a deep, rich brown colour with ruby overtones, while the Winter Ale (both RRP €4.25) boasts dark fruit flavours and a slight peppery flavour.

Limited edition Imperial Stout (RRP €4.60) is aged for four months in Oloroso Sherry casks, extracting complex vanilla spice notes into the stout. And the Winter Ale (RRP €4.25) malt-forward winter warmer has luxurious caramel tones from the use of both light and dark crystal malt, and is exceptionally balanced due to the use of traditional English hops in the recipe.

Cream of Indulgence

Part alcohol, part dessert and pure pleasure, Baileys is a delicious and indulgent treat. Simply served over ice, poured over ice-cream, in coffee, creamy hot chocolate drinks, as part of a “freakshake” or as a delightful ingredient, the possibilities are endless.

Baileys is a true Irish success story. Born of the great Irish traditions of distilling and dairy, Baileys was expertly and uniquely created over four decades ago, giving rise to a whole new spirits category in cream liqueurs and growing to be the most successful spirits launch of the past 40 years. It’s now available in 160 countries, with over 237 million people saying they love Baileys across the globe.

Today, Baileys is the world’s most loved spirits brand and has never been in better shape. A new positioning as a grown-up treat is attracting new consumers and driving brand growth, with three bottles of Baileys sold per second*. And with consumer demand for pure indulgent pleasure on the rise, this trend looks set to continue. Last Christmas, Baileys grew +22% year-on-year, and with increased ATL investment, Christmas 2018 is shaping up to be even bigger.

Place an order with your sales rep or through your Diageo Connect account today on (Drink Baileys responsibly. Visit

*Source: IWSR (International Wine and Spirits Report) global data 2017

**Source: Nielsen ROI THT ex Dunnes ex Discounters, Dec 2017 L3M

New taste experience

Still “probably the best lager in the world”, Carlsberg has announced the launch of its new Carlsberg Unfiltered in Ireland. Carlsberg Unfiltered is a cloudy pilsner lager that offers beer drinkers a brand new taste experience inspired by Danish values of simplicity and a connection with nature. The name reflects the beer’s production process; the brewers have removed the filtration process, which leaves more natural flavours in the lager and produces a cloudy pilsner unlike anything else in the category.

Carlsberg marketing manager, Alan McAleenan said the brand is really excited about the new launch. “Carlsberg Unfiltered Danish Pilsner is a great-tasting lager that will appeal to consumers who want a more natural taste experience from their beer,” McAleenan said. (Enjoy Carlsberg Unfiltered Sensibly. Visit

Record Christmas

The remarkable success of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin has seen it set new records around the world. From London to Moscow, New York to Sydney, the brand has established itself in 28 international markets just two years after launch.

At home, the brand is a firm favourite with Irish consumers, reflected in incredible early Christmas sales across the country. The Curious Christmas Gift Box, like the bottle itself, is an instant eye-catcher and a top Christmas gift choice.

From the mind of pioneering producer PJ Rigney, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is slow-distilled by hand with oriental botanicals and Gunpowder Tea at Rigney’s renowned Shed Distillery.

The Shed creates remarkable, ambitious brands with a ‘curious edge’ to compete with the best the world’s leading spirit brands, all slow-distilled by hand in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, Ireland.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin was voted Ireland’s best gin two years in a row at the National Gin & Tonic festival in 2017 and 2018. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is distributed in Ireland by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits. RRP €49/70cl.

International blend

Also hailing from The Shed in Drumshanbo is Sausage Tree Pure Irish Vodka. Its striking red bottle draws in the consumer, while the incredible spirit within is as super-premium as the bottle itself. This time the quest to create “nature’s purest tasting vodka” ledPJ Rigney to Africa to discover the Kigelia africana or ‘Sausage Tree’.

Known for itscurative and purifying powers, just like the wild Irish nettle in the Drumshanbo woodlands, brought the sausage tree back to The Shed Distillery and combined the two, slow-distilling them by hand with Irish grain for a high quality 43% strength vodka.

After this painstaking process, every bottle of Sausage Tree PureIrish Vodka is then carefully bottled by hand, sealed and labelled for distribution. A perfect Christmas gift, which invites the receiver on an unforgettable journey of discovery, the unique deep red glass bears curious markings and the impactful label proclaims that ‘Nature has no place for the weak’.

The launch of Sausage Tree Pure Irish Vodka spells further good news for Ireland’s Northwest along with the opening of The Shed’s new Visitor Experience next year. RRP €49/70cl.

Diplomatic complexity

The exquisite Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum is renowned as one of the finest rum brands in the world. Diplomático has become the first-ever rum brand to benamed Spirit Brand of the Year at Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Star Awards.

Following the exceptional response to the brand in Ireland across five-star hotels as well as top bars and restaurants, the premium Venezuelan rum is now available in the off-trade.

Aged for up to 12 years, the brand is recognized for its elegance and complexity, born of the marriage of a unique body with excellent balance. Diplomático is an independent, family-owned brand best known for its sipping rums such as Reserva Exclusiva. It is curated by Maestro Ronero whose expertise and excellence in the art of blending ensures exceptional quality and taste.

The Diplomatico Tradition Range – Mantuano, Planas and Reserva Exclusiva – is carefully crafted rums from premium sugar cane and uses a rich varietyof distillation methods. The brand is exported to more than 70 countries, and has secured protected Denomination of Origin.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is available in O’Briens, SuperValu and independent off-licences nationwide. RRP €55/70cl.

Tears for cheers!

This Christmas, Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot is available in a sophisticated, beautifully finished presentation pack, which includes two teardrop branded whiskey tumblers and a 70cl bottle of Writers’ Tears Copper Pot.

Produced by Walsh Whiskey, Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot is distilled entirely from pot still and malt, without grain, non-peated and matured in American Oak bourbon casks. The blending of the two whiskey styles became very popular in the 1800s, including amongst the large Irish literary community. Bernard Walsh of Walsh Whiskey resurrected this rare style in 2009 and Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot is now distributedto over 20 countries worldwide, more than doubling its distribution in the United States to over 40 States in 2018.

Christmas sales will be further supported through a new brand partnership deal with the renowned WhiskyCast podcast produced by legendary whiskey aficionado, Mark Gillespie. Writers’ Tears – Copper Pot will feature on the website and in every WhiskyCast podcast.

Cream of the crop

Just in time for Christmas, super-premium Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur has launched on the nationwide market. Five Farms is a single batch Irish cream liqueur entirely sourced and produced in Cork, and derives its name from the five family-owned farms in the region that provide the product’s rich dairy cream. Cork is also home to the centuries-old tradition of distilling Irish whiskey.

Made with 10-year-old, triple-distilled Irish whiskey, the secret to the Five Farms’ taste lies in both the quality and quantity of whiskey in the recipe – 10% whiskey content compared to less than 1% used by most cream liqueur brands. This difference is significant, resulting in an intensity of whiskey flavour that sets Five Farms apart from every other Irish cream liqueur in the world.

Five Farms is a true “farm-to-table” product, crafted from single batches of fresh cream, combined with Irish whiskey within 48 hours to become authentic Irish cream liqueur.

Five Farms has already taken the United States by storm, and is tipped as the brand that will elevate the cream liqueur category globally. It has just receiveda phenomenal 97 score at the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, creating excitement about the brand in the worldwide drinks industry.

Founder’s keepers

Hailing from the celebrated Walsh Whiskey Distillery in Co. Carlow, The Irishman Founder’s Reserve recently won Gold Medals at both Whisky Wizards and the International Spirits Challenge this year.

Walsh’s also took the title of ‘Irish Distiller of the Year’ at the Whisky Wizards, and won Gold at the 2017 Irish Whiskey Awards in the Best Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP less than €60) category.

This unique creation was inspired by whiskey makers of bygone Ireland, where pot still and malt whiskeys were married to create a super-premium blend. The Irishman Founder’s Reserve is the original and signature blend created by founder Bernard Walsh, using 70% single malt and 30% single pot still.

Walsh Whiskey is the only creator of Irish blended whiskey to contain 100% whiskey distillates from the copper pot still and 0% grain or column still whiskey. This results in a much more flavoursome whiskey. The Founder’s Reserve is triple distilled and matured in Bourbon casks. RRP €35/70cl/ ABV 40%.

There’s a storm coming

Bermuda’s national drink – Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy – is the perfect festive cocktail this Christmas. A marriage ofGosling’s Black Seal Rum with its rich, intricate flavour, and the specially crafted Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer, it’s a match made in holiday heaven.

Goslings is a super-premium dark rum made from a 150 year-old Gosling’s family recipe. A blend of three different rums, aged independently for between three and six years in charred American oak casks, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum can be enjoyed in a broad range of drinks and cocktails including the legendary Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy.

Gosling’s Ginger Beer was created by Goslings to perfectly complement Gosling’s Black Seal Rum in the signature drink, Dark ’n Stormy.

Dreams of Dublin

With its construction on Mill Street currently nearing completion, The Dublin Liberties Distillery (DLD) is set to change the Irish whiskey landscape. The DLD will be home to the whiskey portfolio of Quintessential Brands Ireland, which includes The Dublin Liberties, The Dubliner and The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskeys.

Crafted with audacity, thewhiskeys of The DLD are borne from the hand-selected natural ingredients, rebellious taste choices and pioneering distillation processes of master distiller, Darryl McNally.

The Dubliner is currently taking the world by storm with an international gold medal sweep across its entire range this year, while whiskey enthusiasts in Ireland are also taking note. Made from a blend of grain and malt whiskeys, The Dubliner Irish Whiskey is aged in bourbon casks from Kentucky, giving a perfectly-balanced flavour, with a soft richness and a hint of sweet bourbon.

Along with the Bourbon Cask Aged Dubliner and The Dubliner Irish Whiskey & Honeycomb Liqueur (which just won Best Irish Liqueur at the Irish Whiskey Awards), the jewel in the Dubliner’s crown is undoubtedly the award-winning 10-Year-Old Single Malt, made from 100% malted barley before being aged in bourbon oak casks. In short, Darryl McNally, master distiller at The DLD, has captured the essence of Dublin in these Irish whiskeys, paying homage to the centuries-old history of distilling in Dublin.

Five years in the making, the super-premium Dead RabbitIrish Whiskey is aged in bourbon casks and finished in half-size virgin American oak barrels – because when it comes to whiskey-making, wood matters! Completing the selection of the DLD whiskeys, The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil Irish Whiskey is an exceptional non-chill filtered five-year-old blend of single malt and grain whiskeys, full of character and bottled at 42% ABV.

These whiskeys allow the consumer to experience Dublin character and savour Liberties mayhem; the whiskeys are that good. This is real Dublin whiskey-making, from the Liberties straight to shelves nationwide. For more information, visit

Quintessential Brands Ireland also boasts a range of remarkable gins by Joanne Moore, one of the world’s first female master distillers. Greenall’s works perfectly in a classic gin and tonic serve, while Bloom, the premium London Dry Gin, is revered for its singular floral style and beautiful presentation.

Moore has also created Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin (pronounced ‘O-peer’). Opihr’s heritage is firmly rooted in the Ancient Spice Route; its hand-picked botanicals epitomise the exotic intensity of the Orient, with spicy Indonesian cubeb berries, Indian black pepper and Moroccan coriander. The botanicals are then infused with premium quality spirit in copper pot stills, using over 250 years of tradition and expertise, to create an utterly unique spiced gin.

Today, it is one the fastest-growing premium gins in the world, sold in over 100 countries, and completes a truly remarkable and all-encompassing gin offering from Quintessential Brands Ireland.





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