Last week was my third year attending the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association Meeting in Las Vegas. This event is where wine and spirits producers (brand owners) come to meet with their distributors.
It's also the place many new brands come to try to find distributors in the first place.
On the main floor is where much of the new or newly-imported brands show their wares in hopes of luring a distributor to pick up their products. And that's where you see what new spirits people think they can sell.
Many fall into categories: luxury bottlings of spirits (often just really nice bottles with wholesale vodka, tequila or other spirits inside), ethnic imports (strange spirits that are hugely popular in Bavaria or other places imported to please those countries immigrant populations in America), lower-cost copycat products of popular-selling spirits like Jagermeister and cake-flavored vodka. And then there are some entirely new flavors and products.
Here are some product trends I noticed this year.
- Flavored whiskies and whisky liqueurs. I tried a couple of honey-based ones but there were several flavors. I think these are following the success of Jim Beam's Red Stag.
- Western and tattoo-themed bottles. Many of these bottles were holding the above-mentioned flavored whiskies.
- Tequila. There was a lot of tequila on the floor, divided into three different types for the most part. 1. Rustic bottlings right from Mexico, some in ceramic craft bottles, some in just plain glass with plain labels from the home country. 2. Americanized and/or hip-looking tequila brands. 3. Luxury tequila brands in very expensive bottles.
- Interestingly, there weren't many mezcals there.
- Luxury vodka. (Why??) Though I didn't look too closely, I didn't see any interesting gimmicks other than having nice bottles.
- Irish Whiskey. There were more brands than I remember seeing last time, but with the Cooley distillery being purchased by Jim Beam who knows how many will be around in a year?
- Bai Jiu. There were only two brands that I saw this year but I've never tried Bai Ju (the top-selling spirit in the world, from China) before. It's incredibly stanky.
- Cake/candy/cream flavored vodkas. We saw these last year also, but the year in between has seen the massive success of these flavors. In one of the later seminars, the speaker mentioned that sales of whipped cream flavored vodkas are over a million cases.
- Not much pisco. I only saw Porton there. Surprising.
I also tried a few things that were new and/or interesting to me.
- Dzama Rum, from Madagascar. They have a few bottlings including a 104 proof.
- BonFun - A cognac/grape must blend; basically a pineau des charantes in a hipper bottle.
- House Spirits new coffee liqueur is delicious.
- Dictator Rum from Columbia. Have 12 and 20 year old products (average age, not minimum).
- B Honey Cachaca. Nothing fancy but could take advantage of the expected cachaca boom over the next few years.
So there you have it. What spirit categories or flavors do you think will be popular in the next year?