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Southern Wine & Spirits Introduces New Artisanal Group portfolio

on 24/04/13 at 2:52 pm

Booze News, BoozeBlog

LogoHow do you get through an afternoon of tasting spirit after spirit at a distributor’s portfolio tasting? Very spiritedly.

Southern Wine and Spirits held a tasting of their new Artisanal Group portfolio + a bunch of their other brands at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Where else to introduce hand-crafted booze? It was a terrific and very well run event with educational seminars and delicious snacks. There emerged some interesting trends and some creative marketing ploys to differentiate, let’s say, one vodka from a pack of hundreds. Here’s my personal perspective.

First of all ‘Artisanal’. Is that word already becoming an overworked buzzword? It’s certainly taken on a new meaning. It’s not exactly about the artisans of the past who single-handedly made high quality goods, but in this context, it means a spirit that is made in a smaller quantity. So, if a large brand comes out with a ‘small batch’ of a different spirit or a sub-category of their main spirit, is that supposed to mean it’s better quality than their main offering? It can get a bit complicated as to where these new small production products should be categorized in terms of the perception of their quality but it seems clear that they are meant to be ‘special’.

In any case, two big trends seem to be on the rise. Tequila producers, in particualr, are smoothing out their product, making it much easier to drink. Almost every tequila I tried had a softness, and even some sweetness to it, that made it very accessible for a ‘beginner’ to try at the entry-level. Once a consumer gets used to the easy stuff, as palates get more sophisticated, they’ll move on to more complicated libations. To my chagrin, there was only one aquavit producer. But I’m betting that there’ll be more very soon. It’s a potent and delicious product and so fun to drink.

Everyone seems to have a premium vodka. I’ll single out a vodka that I actually did find to be distinctly different and that’s Karlsson’s vodka made from potatoes. They have carved out an interesting niche to stand out from the pack of a gazzilion other vodkas. #1 they are putting a vintage and a number on their bottles; #2 highlighting them by the ‘batch’ – poached from a term reserved for whiskies – and #3 using single-varietal potatoes. As I mentioned, creative marketing. If it works for whisky, why not try it for vodka? Their materials even go so far as to say what kind of potatoes are in the bottle, time they were picked, went to be washed and that they were sent to the distillery within 24 hours. Are people really going to stand around chat about that? No matter, it’s an unique strategy and the bottles are great looking. That would be enough for me to want to try it. images

And that’s another great marketing pitch. A lot of the bottles and packaging were eye-catching. For example, the presentation of this sipping tequila – they are very strict about that…sipping only – was luxurious and meant to signal that maybe they were Tiffany’s cousin…see photo…expensive-tequila-bottles-casa-dragones-tequila






All in all, it was great introduction to the Artisanal Group with lots of tasty offerings. Well done! Here are a few more pix of the day…


Yes, there were men in kilts


Another great looking bottle

Another great looking bottle