Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
There’s a new kid in town, making an entrance in a tall white bottle with blue livery, toting natural ingredients and an unmistakably yoghurty aroma.
Through the saloon doors steps Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur. A creamy white, sweet and sour addition to the liqueurs category – and Bols’ bulging armoury of offerings. You can almost hear the cream liqs at the bar saying: “You ain’t from round here, are you?” And, well, it’s hard to decide whether a yoghurt liqueur has a place in a cream liqueurs feature. It’s an innovation, there’s no doubt about that.
The brand is already present in several global markets including China, Russia, Ireland and Bulgaria and it was launched in the UK earlier this year where it retails for £10.95 in off-trade. It will also be available in the on-trade.
Distributor Maxxium UK’s marketing controller for specialities, Johna Penman, said: “Lucas Bols is the first and only company in the world to launch a 100% natural yoghurt liqueur. It provides a fresh and natural alternative to traditional cream liqueurs.”
Traditional cream liqueurs are plodding along, with Euromonitor predicting fairly sluggish growth between 2012 and 2016 – 138,548 million litres in 2012 up to 143,534 million litres in 2016. But growth it is. And it’s no surprise to note that Diageo is the number one producer, with Distell in second place (Euromonitor). In fact, Drinks International’s Millionaires 2012 cites Baileys case shipments at 6.8m for 2011. That’s up from 6.7m in 2010.
Anna McDonald, liqueurs category director for Diageo North America, says: “In 2011 and 2012, the cream liqueurs category experienced growth in the US national market. This growth is inclusive of Baileys. As the category leader, the brand team on Baileys has always wanted to ensure they’re helping to drive category growth and understand today’s consumer and what they’re looking for.
“Diageo is playing a big role in expanding and strengthening the category with innovations such as Qream with a Q and alliances such as Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka which illustrate the potential of the category.”
But brand leader Baileys hasn’t had it easy in every market. The cream liqueur took a hit in financially unsettled western Europe, though it managed to stay flat thanks to other parts of the world.
McDonald adds: “During the six months ended 31 December 2011, despite the difficult consumer environment in western Europe where volume and net sales were down 11% and 9% respectively, overall Baileys net sales were flat as strong performances in all other regions offset these declines.”
McDonald attributes these ‘strong performances’ to the Baileys Let’s Do It Again campaign together with limited-edition bottles by jewellery designer Stephen Webster and Christmas visibility. The Stephen Webster bottle was a Baileys Original Special Edition that launched in Russia. She adds: “The successful launch of the new Biscotti flavour partially offset the decline in flavours.”