Looking For A Change - Craft Spirits in 2019

Picture of production at Tayport Distillery

Looking for a change, new craft spirits

Distillers have realised that you don’t have to play by the category rules to create something outstanding – and if the results are good enough, they won’t be held back by the lack of a simple ‘whisky’ or ‘gin’ label. We’re excited to see what 2019 will bring. 

- Kristiane Sherry, Master of Malt, Jan 4th 2019.

Tayport Distillery first launched their eau de vie in March 2018, providing something new for those looking for a change.  Some distillers are truly making a difference and making spirits with new flavours. We decided from the outset to make a quality spirit made from local fruits and grains, it just seemed to make sense.

So here is our blog for those looking for something different, explaining the trends of flavour innovation and spirits which are going against convention. We consider what that means for Tayport Distillery, our future and how we might be addressing some of those trends. 

Recently, we were featured in the White Spirits and RTDS Mintel Report (December, 2018) for having launched and innovated a new craft spirit. We have done this through creating a spirit that was entirely unknown within Scottish territory, an eau de vie - keeping it to small batches and bottling in-house. We have tossed aside the juniper and barrel to create something entirely unique. A spirit with fruit, using local Scottish produce. This was touched upon in the Top 50 Innovative Spirit of 2018 for our progressive stance within the spirit industry, producing everything from grain to glass.

Some of you may be wondering what actually counts as a craft spirit? This is a good question, as the trend has grown its interpretation has definitely been debated. 

What is a craft spirit?

A craft spirit is a product that is made in small batches, distilled, bottled and labelled on-site (American Distilling Institute, 2019). Tayport Distillery have taken this one step further by developing a unique base spirit to compliment our fruit flavoured spirits, Never.25. This means that we create the part of product that makes it alcoholic. The white spirit, so to speak. This is then proofed down slightly to be macerated with our fruit. 

The maceration part of our process is what keeps us small scale. If we want to impart the maximum amount of flavour into our spirit, we have to do it in batches of 80 bottles at a time. 

'Defying convention'- Master of Malt

The Master of Malt article above could not have put it more brilliantly. There is a growing interest in alternative spirits that are not categorised and are very progressive in their flavour offerings. This was one of the biggest reasons Tayport Distillery decided to create Scotland's first eau de vie. A spirit with fruit. We wanted to separate ourselves from the growing Gin trend at the time and use the fruit and grain we had locally, inspired by traditions of French eau de vie.

This trend is only set to increase as distillers are becoming more experimental with their flavour offerings, take a look at Cambridge Distillery who have created Anty Gin or The Canna Co. offering cannabis infused gin.

With that being said, this is a really exciting time for craft distillers who are looking to be inventive with flavours and we can not wait to see what new flavours will be emerging. 

How do you stand out in a crowded market?

Creating something entirely unique! The top three things we think are crucial to staying on trend within the crowded spirits industry are

  • Alternative Spirits
  • Flavour
  • Provenance and Transparency 

Alternative spirits have become more popular as of late due to the rise in botanicals used in Gin to make competitors stand out from each other. It wasn't until late 2016/early 2017 that alternative spirits began to emerge, here is a list of some:

  • Sweetdram, Escubac : A company driven by flavour rather than convention, Escubac is a botanical spirit infused with raisins, vanilla & saffron at the forefront of their profile.
  • Lindores Abbey, Aqua Vitae : The earliest known reference to Scotch Whisky being made in Scotland was recorded at Lindores Abbey, one of our Fife neighbours. Aqua Vitae is now distilled at Lindores infused with cleaver, lemon verbena, Douglas fir and sweet cicely giving it a rip sweetness with a slight herbal touch. 
  • Ncn’ean, Botanical Spirit : ‘Not Whisky, Not Gin’ This is a entire unique spirit providing lots for the consumer to experience, offering a ‘creamy, nutty and barley notes with the flavours of grapefruit, herbs and sour berries.’ Also featured No.5 in the Top 50 Innovative Spirits article. 
  • Freya, Birch Spirit : Freya launched two variants of their birch spirit. Fermented and distilled from the sap of the birch tree, you can try their original and a Woodsmoke variant. 
  • Highland Boundary, Wild Scottish Spirit : Hand-picked botanicals from the area surrounding their farm, Highland Boundary is another botanical spirit flavoured with Birch buds and Elderflower. 
  • Obviously us! Tayport Distillery : We make Never.25, a spirit made with fruit, Eau de Vie. Where Gin has Juniper, we simply just have fruit. That is the only difference. 

Consumers are becoming much more educated in what it takes to create a truly unique spirit. Their taste profiles are becoming increasingly selective as they make more conscious decisions about what spirits they prefer. 

Reports have suggested using vegetables to flavour their spirits. Tayport Distillery have certainly experimented with carrots in the mash, but never flavouring with a vegetable, maybe something for us to consider in the future? Flavours are always a great place to get creative and experiment with trying something new! 

You can read more about our take on provenance in our blog: Provenance. For now, why not subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our latest news!

 

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