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Kenyans quench new thirst for fine liquor

on 12/03/11 at 11:32 am

Booze News

Head barman at Nairobi’s Caribana, Charles Njoroge, with some top shelf whiskies. Photo/LIZ MUTHONI

There was a time a bottle of single malt whisky would remain on the top shelves for months.

But this is now a thing of the past, with the top shelves in Kenyan bars gaining popularity as customers willingly pay for the finer spirits in the market.

The sale of expensive spirits, especially wines and whiskies is going up, mainly driven by the growing well-travelled, cosmopolitan and thirsty middle class with increased disposable incomes.

Bar owners are quickly stocking up their top shelves to meet this new demand, especially for single malt whiskies.

Top shelf refers to the most premium brands of liquor available and is mainly displayed at the top for all to see.

Customers are willing to pay thousands of shillings for a shot of their favourite premium brand.

“Kenyans are travelling more and get exposed to different drinks. With a little more money in their pockets they are demanding, and willing to pay for these premium drinks,” said Mr Peter Gikonyo, the foods and beverage manager at Sankara hotel.

People are spending more eating and drinking out as incomes grow.

Aspiring young executives and budding entrepreneurs are major drivers of sales for these drinks, as they want to be seen as connoisseurs of top quality spirits

These has led to a shift on the top shelve with Johnny Walker (JW) Black Label that was previously considered expensive drinks in this market becoming mid level drinks.

Most of the premium brands retail from Sh1,000 and can go up to Sh5,000, a tot. The 30 millilitres. JW Blue, the top end of the brand, retails for Sh2,800 at Cin Cin bar in Fairmont Norfolk, Sh2,500 at Sankara and Sh1,500 at Caribana.

The head barman at Caribanna, along Lenana Road, Mr Charles Njoroge says that for most of his patrons, quality comes before costs and that customers are willing to pay for their favourite tipple.

With over 20 years experience behind the counter, he has learned his customers’ preferences and also introduced them to quality drinks.

{Full story via Business Daily Africa}

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