There is increasing interest in spirits – how they are made, where are they produced and how best to enjoy them. Location and sustainability are the growing concerns. Therefore 2018 will be a great year for spirits, especially for the crafty ones, but I am confident there will be room for some old classics as well.
The gin category will continue to dominate, and we love to explore various flavours and combinations. The number of locally produced small-batch gins is likely to increase. Tequila and Mezcal did well last year, but more work is still needed to educate us consumers about these beautiful agave spirits.
Below I have listed in more detail my predictions about what we can expect to drink in 2018.
The tequila category is set to keep growing all the way through to 2021, which I am extremely happy about. But this increased demand will be punishing for the agave harvest. It is important for the distilleries to practise restraint in the production, and there are plans to start planting new agave plants for those harvested. Personally, this year I am aiming to experiment with Mezcal a little more.
Try these: Del Maguey Mezcal, Casamingos Tequila (yes, it’s the one with George Clooney’s signature on it!), Santera Tequila
Sherry had a good push last year, but I’m sure that was only the beginning and we will see much more of it in 2018. The younger generation has taken to sherry, and it is used in cocktails or served with delicious tapas. If you want to try something new this year, I recommend you give sherry a go. Sample different brands and types of sherry, and, to get the most out of it, combine it with food as this will really improve the experience.
Try these: Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla, Bodegas Yuste Aurora Amontillado, Valdespino Fino Inocente, Sainsbury’s Taste Difference 12 year Pedro Ximenez
Well obviously… We haven’t seen the end of the gin craze just yet, but we can expect new flavour combinations and unusual botanicals. Many distilleries are focusing on local produce. And there is always the debate on how far can you push the boundaries in gin making before it becomes something else (there are already gins on the market in which juniper is taking a back seat).
New Age gins are creative and are pushing the boundaries in the gin category, with bold and strong flavours. You can expect to taste juniper hours afterwards with New Age gin. Whether that is a good thing, I’ll let you decide…
Try these: Renegade Gin, St. Giles Gin, Tarquin’s Gin, Roku Gin (from Beam Suntory), Chapel Down Bacchus Gin
Irish whiskey exports have been increasing and they are expected to continue to grow. For decades Ireland only had three whiskey distilleries, but now there are at least 30 (currently operational or opening soon). Also, the popularity of shows like Peaky Blinders has lured as back into drinking Irish whiskey. We can expect exciting new products from these distilleries. Time to look beyond scotch!
Try these: Method & Madness, Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey, Dingle Single Malt Whiskey
Not one of my favourites, but I think that’s only because my taste buds are not fully developed for such a fine spirit. As quality over quantity is the motto in spirits in 2018, cognac will fit in perfectly. Choose from VS (>2yrs), VSOP (>4yrs) and XO (>10 years). Cognac is like whisky, it never really goes out of style.
Try these: Louis Royer VS Cognac, Hine Cognac
One million grapevines are being planted in the UK by April 2018, and with Brexit increasing the price of imported booze, we might end up drinking more local wines. English sparkling wine has also been increasingly popular.
Try these: Wiston Estate Cuvée Brut, Booths English Sparkling Brut, Bolney Wine Estate Pinot Noir, Camel Valley Bacchus Dry
We are getting used to drinking spirits and learning to really appreciate them, therefore I am confident this year we will be serving more and more spirits neat. This also means cocktails will be on the strong and short side – time to leave the fruity long drinks behind.
I would like to see more rum this year, but I am not convinced that will be the case just yet. And as you might already know, more whisky is my new year’s resolution, therefore I shall include Irish whiskey in there too.
Are you planning on experimenting with new spirits this year? What do you think about these trends? Please leave your comments below.