Anticipating seasonal sales

Sales of alcohol enjoy a seasonal boost around Christmas-time, a period recognised as being one for suppliers to promote their brands heavily with a view to enjoying more returns than at any other time of the year. We review what’s in store for the on- and off-trade from suppliers this Christmas.


Christmas is about much more than free mulled wine and mince pies for the regulars.

Christmas is about much more than free mulled wine and mince pies for the regulars.

For many pubs, Christmas is the busiest season of the year. However Christmas is about much more than free mulled wine and mince pies for the regulars.

And while cream liqueurs will always be more popular at this time of year, it’s also a time when consumers are tempted to try new and different drinks – mulled cocktails, for example, or even mulled gin?

NoLo products too have picked up sales pace and the Christmas period is likely to see them pick up that pace even more.

A premium quality wine – by the neck for a group of friends celebrating the Festive season together rather than by the glass – should be among the bar’s festive offerings for customers.

Last Christmas beverage was one of the big winners alongside confectionery according to Nielsen with spend up 4.6%. Nevertheless, Nielsen pointed out that, “Alcohol, normally a growth driver at Christmas, saw Beer and Wine value sales decline and only Spirits in growth.”

Despite this, alcohol and soft drinks brands dominated the Top 10 marketing spenders list in the November-December period last year with Coca-Cola taking top position, Guinness second and Hop House 13 third in the Table.

This was followed by Rockshore Lager in fourth and Heineken in fifth place, with Carlsberg in sixth place, Lucozade in seventh place, 7Up Free in eighth place, Cadburys in ninth place and Smithwicks in 10th.

So alcohol took six of the top advertising spend spots in the run-up to Christmas with soft drinks taking two of the 10 spots.

On the spend side, gin volume was up 3.8%, cream liqueurs 1.5%, table wines 1.3%, whiskey 1.2%, mineral waters 0.9% and rum 0.5%.

In reviewing last year’s Christmas market Nielsen pointed out that – excluding tobacco – alcohol spend overall was up 0.8% or by an extra €3.2 million.

According to figures from Barclaycard, pubs in the UK saw an increase in sales of 12.9% last Christmas.


Off-trade Christmas

Value-added branded packaging encourages sales at this time of year which is why the suppliers highlight it. Despite the extra cost of this seasonal packaging, it’s more than made up for in increased Yuletide sales increases.

But in the multiples, nearly half of Christmas spend was ‘promoted spend’ with 65% of beer and 69% of spirits sold on deal compared with 49% of beer and 48% of spirits over the whole of 2018.

According to Nielsen, beer sales values fell last Christmas driven by a shift in volume to smaller pack-sizes.

The largest gain in volumes was in the NABLAB market here which jumped by 154% while ale rose by 0.4%. Stout fell by 5.9% and lager by 0.4% in volumes in the eight weeks to December 30th.

Single packs of beer have shown the most growth at Christmas through the years, growing from 18% of the overall pack format in Christmas 2016 to 23% the following year and 27% last Christmas.

Over the same time the large multipack (12-plus) format saw a fall in share from 51% to 46% to 42% and the small multipack format (under 12 format) remained constant at 31% throughout these Festive periods.

This year suppliers of beer, cider, wine and spirits will be trying to better that.




Best Gin Oscar for Drumshanbo

For the first time ever, an Irish gin brand has won a Flaviar Best Spirit Award and claimed the Best Gin title.

For the first time ever, an Irish gin brand has won a Flaviar Best Spirit Award and claimed the Best Gin title.

Hot on the heels of winning the Best Gin Oscar at the 2019 Flaviar awards in New York  Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is preparing for a busy Christmas. This is the first time in the history of the Flaviar awards that an Irish gin brand has won a ‘Best Spirit Award’ & claimed the Best Gin title.

Distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits Ireland’s top Super Premium gin will be available in a spectacular gift box featuring a bespoke glass to match the stunning blue bottle.

From the Curious Mind of PJ Rigney, every drop of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is slow-distilled by hand with oriental botanicals & Gunpowder Tea, proudly hand-bottled, sealed and labelled by the team at The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney.

Since the win 10 new employees have joined The Shed team and 25 more jobs will  bring the total number employed to 60.


Sausage Tree Pure Irish Vodka


Sausage Tree Pure Irish Vodka is the second big brand from The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney following on from the success of the now iconic Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin. 

The striking red bottle draws in the consumer while the vodka within is as super-premium as the bottle itself.

Known for its curative & purifying powers (like the wild Irish nettle in the Drumshanbo woodlands), PJ brought the two together back in The Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.

Every bottle of Sausage Tree Pure is slow-distilled by hand, carefully hand-bottled, sealed and labelled.


Dalcassian Wines & Spirits launches Avallen Calvados

From the Old Cornish name for ‘Apple Tree’, Avallen Calvados is fresh, fruity and apple-forward using over 40 varieties of apples and pears.

An accessible yet high-quality liquid with a fresh and innovative take on design for the category, Avallen Spirits aims to shake up the global spirits market and take Calvados off the shelf & into the speedwells and cocktail menus of bars around the world.

The bottle has been selected for its bartender-friendliness but as one of the lightest on the market it ensures a reduced carbon footprint from shipping.

Cultivated in a well-orchestrated eco-system whereby the orchards, cows, birds and bees work in perfect harmony, founders Stephanie Jordan and Tim Etherington-Judge aimed to create the most sustainable spirit brand possible whilst re-igniting Calvados, one of the world’s great brandies.

Their #BeePositive message sees 50 Cent from every bottle sold donated to protecting and restoring the bee population and a commitment to plant 10,000 wild flowers by 2022 to help our forever declining bee population.










Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum


The exquisite Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum – an independent, family-owned brand – is one of the finest rum brands in the world. Aged for up to 12 years, the brand is recognised for its elegance and complexity, born of the marriage of a unique body with excellent balance.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva forms part of the Tradition Range along with Mantuano and Planas, all carefully crafted rums from premium sugar cane using a rich variety of distillation methods.



Designed with bartenders in mind, the ‘Mixer’ fruit puree range brings fresh fruit in a bottle.

Dalcassian Wines & Spirits distributes the 30-strong range including popular favourites Pineapple, Coconut, Peach & Strawberry as well as the more exotic prickly Pear and Dragon fusion.

The equivalent of 100% fruit purees cropped and concentrated right at the moment of perfect ripeness, they can be used either to boost and balance fresh fruit when mixed or to replace fruit when not available.


Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur

Made with premium triple-distilled Irish Whiskey, Five Farms is a single batch Irish Cream Liqueur entirely sourced and produced in Cork.

Awarded the Chairman’s Trophy at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in 2018, Five Farms received a score of 97, the highest-ever score for an Irish Cream Liqueur brand in the global spirits competition.

Five Farms contains a greater amount of Irish Whiskey – 10% of the alcohol is Irish whiskey – than other brands on the market. The resulting intensity of whiskey flavour sets Five Farms apart from every other Irish Cream Liqueur in the world.


The Irishman Founder’s Reserve – the offer Scorsese couldn’t refuse

Distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, The Irishman Founder’s Reserve comes in a special glass gift pack this Christmas.  The original and signature blend created by founder Bernard Walsh uses 70% Single Malt and 30% Single Pot Still.

When Bernard saw the brand name & logo used in a trailer for Martin Scorsese’s new movie The Irishman he made the film director an offer he couldn’t refuse – complimentary Irishman for all the movie’s premieres, in a letter inside a special sealed casket, which also contained a personalised bottle of the critically-acclaimed The Irishman Cask Strength.


Writers’ Tears

This Christmas Writer’s Tears has plenty of cause for celebration following two Gold medal wins at the Irish Whiskey Awards.

Distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, Writer’s Tears is a very rare blend of Single Pot Still and Single Malt triple-distilled Irish whiskeys, non-peated, matured and aged in American Oak Bourbon casks.

Writers’ Tears – Double Oak, is aged in two types of wood – American and French Oak.

Writers’ Tears Copper Pot’s beautifully-finished presentation pack includes two teardrop-branded whiskey tumblers with the 700ml bottle.


Goslings Dark ‘N Stormy

Bermuda’s national drink –  Gosling’s Dark ‘N Stormy – is a perfect marriage of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum which has a rich, intricate flavour and Gosling’s own specially-crafted Ginger Beer.

Goslings Black Seal Rum, distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, is a dark rum made from a 150 year-old Gosling’s family recipe which blends three different rums, aged independently for between three and six years in charred American Oak casks.


Brockmans Gin


Brockmans Gin - distributed by Gilbeys Ireland.

Brockmans’ creators believed that gin could be something more exciting, different and delicious than the traditional brands. So they set out to explore new possibilities in taste and push boundaries to see where gin could go.

Brockmans set out to be different. They wanted a new style gin with a recipe that went beyond Juniper into more avant-garde territory – something distinctive that would shake well with new mixers and create exotic cocktails. In their quest for new experiences, consumers are increasingly looking for interesting flavours and sensations and Brockmans certainly delivers.

Brockmans is intensely smooth with a soft, fruity character derived from the carefully-selected botanicals used in distillation.

Italian Juniper berries provide Pine, Lavender and Camphor notes. Spanish Lemon and Orange peel add zesty citrus. But the unique use of dried wild Blueberries and Blackberries give Brockmans its most distinctive flavour.

Brockmans works exceedingly well in a Martini with a dash of Vermouth and a twist of Lime.











Rémy Martin VSOP is composed of eaux-de-vie exclusively from the highest-quality vineyards of Cognac, the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. Such eaux-de-vie offer an exceptional ageing potential and are known as Cognac Fine Champagne.

In 1927, Rémy Martin’s Cellar Master André Renaud created the very first VSOP Fine Champagne—a truly visionary and audacious decision. This prestigious appellation would be officially recognised 11 years later as an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – a specific growing area protected by French law).

Accounting for one in three bottles of VSOP consumed worldwide, Remy Martin, distributed here by Barry & Fitzwilliam, is the benchmark for the VSOP category and is blended from spirits aged from four to 12 years. This latest version finishes the cognac in old barrels for a year before bottling.

Rémy Martin VSOP embodies the perfect harmony of powerful and elegant aromas.

It’s the symbol of the Cellar Master’s art of blending. Rémy Martin VSOP is extremely versatile, so you may enjoy it neat, on the rocks or in cocktails. We recommend drinking Rémy Martin VSOP with ginger ale or as Remy Grand Tonic made by mixing Remy Martin VSOP over ice, topped with tonic and finished with a wedge of fresh lemon.


The Botanist

Conceived, distilled & hand-crafted on the Island of Islay, The Botanist Islay dry Gin is an artisanal Islay gin made using nine of the classic gin aromatics including Orris root, Cassia bark and Coriander seed, which are augmented with a heady harvest of 22 local botanicals, hand-picked by an expert foraging team from the windswept hills, peat bogs and Atlantic shores of this Hebridean island.

Distributed here by Barry & Fitzwilliam, this truly seasonal and exotic serve is then slow ‘simmer’ distilled in a unique Lomond pot-still. It works at low-pressure so the precious botanicals are slowly and gently coaxed into releasing their complex, signature aromatics.

The result is a highly distinctive gin with layered complexity, a touch of floral notes, an outstanding finish and impeccable provenance. In an age of re-badged industrial gins, The Botanist stands out as a truly artisanal, small-batch, hand-crafted labour of love and distiller’s art.

This first and only Islay dry gin is a rare expression of the heart and soul of the remote Scottish island.



Blackwater Distillery

 After winning last Autumn’s ‘Great Irish Beverages’ cocktail competition Blackwater Distillery is again spending time with bars & their staff across Ireland this Winter showcasing Ireland’s best range of gins. For a distillery that likes to push the boundaries, its unique & versatile gins make perfect partners for some wonderful cocktails.

Last year’s winning gin cocktail ‘Bee Right with You’ (pictured here) created by Cork’s John Coleman, combines classic notes with a modern twist. Using the multi-award-winning Blackwater No5 Gin as its base combined with local honey, egg white, bitters & fresh Lime it backs up that age-old ethos that less really is more when it comes to great-tasting cocktails.

Blackwater’s Wexford Strawberry Gin has been gaining huge attention from the on-trade this year as it’s completely natural, free from any added sugar. Distilled using 100% real Wexford Strawberries from Kearns’ farm in Wexford, it works perfectly in cocktails requiring an authentic burst of Strawberry gin flavour.

Perhaps Ireland’s most unique gin, Blackwater’s Juniper Cask, is laid to rest in Juniper wood casks. With a gin so Juniper-forward, Negronis & Dry Martinis become stand-out cocktails using this gin.

For all on-trade enquiries contact Tim Garde on 085-8622728 or e-mail


Egan’s Legacy Reserve II

Egan’s Irish Whiskey has added its second release to the Legacy Reserve portfolio. The limited-edition Egan’s Legacy Reserve II ups the ante on its popular predecessor, the Legacy Reserve I. This instalment, a 16 Year-Old Single Malt, has been aged in Bourbon barrels and is the first Irish Whiskey to be finished in Banyuls casks, continuing Egan’s tradition for innovation.

Banyuls is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée for a fortified wine made from old vines cultivated in terraces on the slopes of the Catalan Pyrenees in the Roussillon area of Southeast France. The finish adds an intriguing chocolate nose, a decadent mouthfeel and a slight Cassis aftertaste.

Legacy Reserve II is limited to 1,000 bottles worldwide with just 120 allocated to the Irish market. Non chill-filtered and bottled at 46% ABV RRP is €170 and available now. Whiskey Advocate awarded Legacy Reserve II 91 points.


Egan’s Centenary

Egan’s Centenary commemorates 100 years since the passing of Henry Egan, the company’s co-founder and a leading figure in the struggle for an independent Ireland.

Centenary is Egan’s second release in a busy 2019 where a blend of meticulously-selected single malt and single grain whiskey has been married together in Bourbon barrels and finished in French Limousin Oak XO Cognac casks adding further layers of flavour.

Centenary is limited to 6,000 bottles worldwide with just 780 for the Irish market. Hand-numbered bottles are presented in a striking package sure to catch the eye of collectors and connoisseurs.

Whiskey Advocate recently awarded Egan’s Centenary 91 points.

Egan’s Irish Whiskey is distributed by Intrepid Spirits. For distribution enquiries contact Intrepid Spirits on (01) 547 1727.




Punk IPA is where the BrewDog revolution began

This scene-stealing flagship is an India Pale Ale that’s become a byword for craft beer rebellion; synonymous with the insurgency against mass-produced, lowest common denominator beer, Punk IPA charges the barricades to fly its colours from the ramparts – full-on, full-flavour at full-throttle.

Layered with new world hops it creates an explosion of tropical fruit and an all-out riot of Grapefruit, Pineapple and Lychee before a spiky bitter finish.

This 5.6% trans-Atlantic fusion IPA is light golden in colour with tropical fruits and light caramel on the nose. The palate soon becomes assertive and resinous with the New Zealand hops balanced by the biscuit malt. The finish is aggressive and dry with the hops emerging over the warming alcohol.

This fresh, full-flavour natural beer is our tribute to the classic IPAs of yesteryear. The post-modern twist is the addition of fruity hops giving an explosion of tropical fruit flavours and a sharp bitter finish.

Distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam, sales are at an all-time high and we don’t see the rebellious Punk IPA slowing down anytime soon.



Lagunitas Brewing Co began on its founder Tony Magee’s kitchen stove in Northern California in 1993. It has since grown into one of the biggest names in American craft brewing through its simple formula of producing extra hoppy beers paired with an irreverent marketing vibe.

Now distributed by Heineken Ireland with a full cold-storage supply chain, Lagunitas is readily available to craft beer-drinkers across the country. This year saw unprecedented growth for the brand whilst staying true to its humble origins.

Its flagship IPA is a unique version of an ancient style. Made with 43 different hops and 65 various malts, this redolent ale is the #1 IPA in the US.

Lagunitas champions the IPA in the Irish market alongside its rotating range of seasonals throughout the year including 12th of Never and Sumpin’ Easy, currently available to the on-trade.

Follow Lagunitas on to keep up-to-date with exciting new limited-edition beers, tap takeovers, events and more.


Rockshore launches new campaign


Rockshore has unveiled a new Through The Line campaign running across TVC, Digital and Social channels.

The campaign was shot on location across the Kerry coastline, backdropped against the rugged Atlantic coast.

‘This is Rockshore’ champions the invigorating freedom and refreshment we enjoy from a trip away with real mates. Alongside the TVC, a full suite of bespoke digital creative has been developed to connect with the target audience of 25 to 34 year-olds with contextual messaging in the right place and time.

The campaign was shot on location across the Kerry coastline.

The campaign was shot on location across the Kerry coastline.

The story is served up by a cast of real friends who headed off on a camping expedition to enjoy a fun-filled weekend of surf, exploration and craic before settling down around the campsite to enjoy Rockshore lager and cider.

After the weekend they return to their everyday lives and the humdrum of routine before reuniting in their local pub to reconnect, relive their memories and once again enjoy Rockshore.

“We’re delighted to celebrate the next chapter in the Rockshore brand story with ‘This is Rockshore,” said Diageo Senior Brand Manager Jeanette Levis, “Our digitally-led campaign will connect with our target audience at exactly the right time in their lives




Estrella Damm

Established in 1876 when a man called August Küntzmann Damm founded his brewery in Barcelona, Estrella Damm is the oldest brand in Spain. The name Estrella means “star” in both Catalan and Spanish.

Estrella Damm follows the original 1876 recipe using only barley malt, rice and hops, 100% natural ingredients without additives or preservatives. The quality of these ingredients is our first priority and that’s why we work directly with local Mediterranean farmers. It stands out for its creamy hop-flavoured froth and refreshing taste. Alcohol: 5.4%/330ml.


Daura Damm


In 2006, Damm Master Brewers and the gluten department of the Spanish National Research Council developed the first gluten-free beer in Daura Damm. Since then, they are, to date, the most award-winning gluten free beer, maintaining the premium flavour of other beers.


Alcohol: 5.4%/330ml.




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