Christmas market likely to be strong

With all the restraint shown over Lockdown consumers have amassed a mighty cash pile which some, no doubt, aim to spend in hospitality, either 'Out, Out' or 'At Home', over the Christmas period. We look at what’s available from suppliers this Christmas.

Traditionally the best time of the year for alcohol sales, last Christmas was expected to be no different – although being in the depths of Covid meant that the off-trade happily supplied much of the nation’s Christmas drinks demand.

In fact alcohol accounted for 30% of the total incremental Christmas shopping growth recorded in the eight-week period to the 27th of December 2020 according to Nielesn’s Total Store Read Scantrack+Discounters figures.

This translated into a 26% increase in alcohol sales worth an extra €111 million.

It was the biggest contributor to market value growth since the previous Christmas.

Last Christmas nine of the 20 top-selling products were alcohol or alcohol-related where the Christmas before the pandemic, no alcohol at all featured in the Top 20.

During this eight-week period consumers prepared for their Christmas dinner by purchasing 49 million litres of beer and 13 million litres of wine.

Not surprisingly for the time of year No alcohol/Lo alcohol sales were up 32% in the eight-week period and by 42% MAT according to NielsenIQ’s Total Store Read Scantrack+Discounters data to the 6th of December.

“From 1st Dec 2020 we were all under Level 3 restrictions which meant there was partial opening of the hospitality industry limited to venues that served food,” Ruth Lloyd-Evans, Senior Account Manager for Retailer Services at NielsenIQ tells Drinks Industry Ireland, “As of 24th December through to 12th Jan 2021 we went to Level 5 restrictions so that meant closure of hospitality and also restrictions on family gatherings.

“For most families the Christmas event was a much more subdued affair. However, despite or even in spite of the imposed restrictions Beer, Wine and Spirits sales in the off-trade experienced over 30% value growth and over 20% unit growth in alcohol sales in the eight weeks to the 27th of December 2020 versus a year ago (total Multiples/Convenience/Discount/Specialist outlets).

“Bear in mind BWS sales were actually in slight decline for the Christmas Period two years ago – 2019 Vs 2018 (eight weeks),” she explains.

Nielsen reports that Sparkling Wines and Champagnes “saw exceptional growth as consumers indulged more at home”.

This led to a 47% growth in value for Champagne & Sparkling Wine sales over Christmas (or growth of 21% MAT) via a 65% growth in volumes (up 23% MAT).

“There was evidence of trading-up as average price per unit was up 12%” continues Ruth, “so with smaller gatherings to cater for consumers likely bought a nicer bottle”.

She continues, “The key factors that will impact alcohol’s sales performance this Christmas are:

1) we’ll be annualising on a strong takehome alcohol Christmas 2020 when wet pubs were closed and sales were up 30% in value

2) the hospitality industry is back in business; while some people will moderate their nights out due to Covid concerns and favour in-home consumption, others may well want to make up for last year’s missed opportunities to socialise. BWS value sales growth was over 30% full-year 2020 on 2019 but in the latest 12 week period to the 12th of October year-on-year growth is down 5% in value. The re-opening of hospitality is having an impact on off-trade sales and it’s inevitable it will impact the Christmas performance this year.

3) there were less promotions last year and also less depth of promotion. With consumers better able to shop around this year supermarkets and convenience outlets may have to be more competitive to entice consumers – there’s less of a captive audience so to speak this year – consumers have more opportunity to shop around compared to last year when movement was restricted.

4) there’s opportunity for the off-trade – we were considerably restricted on who we could have in our homes last year; it’s likely there’s strong potential for in-home celebrations and increased gatherings this year, more visiting and inevitably more gifting.

“In summary” she concludes, “There’s potential for the off-trade this coming Christmas season but it will likely be a challenge to top the growth of last year.”


Emperor vodka

Emperor is a five times-distilled superior vodka filtered in a classic copper pot still, full of wonderful flavours and smooth as silk.

It’s created to Emperor’s own secret formulas by its Master Distillers in a 300 year-old European heritage distiller exclusively for Emperor.

Emperor comes in: Original Lychee, Watermelon, Passion Fruit, Mojito and Chocolate flavours.







Royal Dragon

Royal Dragon vodka is the ultimate Ultra-Premium & ultra-smooth ‘heritage’ vodka created by Royal Dragon’s own secret formula, produced using the finest Winter harvest. The Master Distiller guides the filtration through vast charcoal chambers. It’s five times-distilled in a Century-old copper pot still to achieve the most flavourful, softest & purest vodka.

Royal Dragon Vodka bottles are hand-blown with Royal Dragon’s sculptured legendary dragon, hand-made by its dedicated team of superb craftsmen.

The superior taste of Royal Dragon vodka is infused with the highest quality edible 23 Carat gold leaves.


e-mail: or


Writers’ Tears Copper Pot

In the last 12 months Writers’ Tears has found its way into the hands of renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood (creator of The Handmaid’s Tale), the chart-topping and multi-platinum-selling Irish band Picture This, American screenwriters/producers Misha Green and JJ Abrams along with actor Stanley Tucci to name but a few.

A marriage of aged Single Pot Still and Single Malt whiskey, each bottle of Writers’ Tears has gracefully passed through the copper pots.

Writers’ Tears Copper Pot is triple-distilled, non-peated, matured and aged in American Oak Bourbon casks.

It can be enjoyed neat, with a splash of water or mixed into your favourite whiskey cocktail.

The Writers’ Tears Copper Pot whiskey range includes three gift options – single bottle whiskey in a stylish presentation pack; a branded hipflask pack with a window to see when it might need replenishing and a mini-book, with a secret compartment containing three 50ml miniatures of different expressions from the range.


Bevella – adventures in beverage                  

“Bevella is a strong, confident offspring of Ireland’s largest distributor Primeline Sales & Marketing,” states the company, “We’ve a vision to be Ireland’s best independent brand-led distributor to the on- and off-trade in terms of range, service, revenue growth and future focus.

“Bevella is a business which focuses on key business areas such as industry knowledge and understanding of customers, trade and trends, partnering and planning with brand owners – and nurturing reliable, supportive, revenue-driving interdependent relationships with publicans, wholesalers and retailers.

“Our partners to date include The Muff Liquor Company – Gin, Vodka and Whiskey, Blood Monkey Gin, Connacht Whiskey Company – Straw Boys Vodka and Poitín, Conncullin Gin, Ballyhoo Whiskey, Single Malt Whiskey Batch 1, Two Stacks Whiskey, Killowen Whiskey, Rum and Craft Gins and Maharani Gin.

These brands offer a unique array of quality flavours and as the Bevella team analyse the emerging market trends there will be even more impressive and exhilarating brands coming onboard to meet everyone’s expectations,” promises the company.

“Bevella exudes Primeline’s 30 years of experience as well as an enhanced determination to bring diversity and new experiences to the Irish alcohol industry. Our experience, capability, imagination and resources are at your disposal whether you have a brand to distribute, a bar to fill, or an off-licence shelf to stock.”

For further details please call Ronan Brennan, Business Representative Manager, on +353 87 332 6783 or email the team at


Powerscourt unveils 2nd in ‘Five Elements’ series

The latest addition to the ‘Five Elements’ series was launched recently at the Fercullen VIP Garden at Taste of Dublin 2021.

This marriage of five different cask styles is expertly combined by Noel Sweeney to form a genuinely complex and distinctive whiskey. Noel’s legendary experience has been applied to ensure that different proportions of each style lend balance and expression to each of the Five Elements within this 20 Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey.

16-year-old Bourbon barrel matured malt whiskey has been finished for four years in a variety of Oloroso, Pedro Ximenez, Marsala and Muscatel casks before marrying this together with 20 Year-Old Bourbon-matured Single Malt.

Five styles expertly combined by a Master’s touch, have produced this rare and inimitable Single Malt Irish Whiskey.

Following the glowing reception and success of the 2020 release of the first ‘Five Elements’ 18 Y-O Malt, Noel has unveiled his latest expression of the Five Elements series, limited to just 1,500 bottles.


Roe & Co Cask Strength 2021 edition launched

Roe & Co Irish Whiskey has launched its latest innovation, ‘Roe & Co Cask Strength 2021 Edition’.

This 13 Year-Old Single Grain whiskey is finished in Alligator Char New Oak and represents the third release in Roe & Co’s Cask Strength series, revealing the DNA of blended Irish whiskey.

When the Roe & Co team bottled the core 106-blend for 2019 (a blend of rich malt whiskey and the smoothest of grain whiskey aged in Bourbon casks), it was a natural fit to release a unique Single Malt in 2020 followed by this Single Grain special release.

Cask Strength 2021 celebrates the backbone and makeup of the original Roe & Co 106 blend.

The grain is matured for 13 years and has been specifically chosen to finish in unique casks to heighten and develop the flavours that already exist in Grain whiskey.

The Alligator Char New Oak casks used have been heat-treated to such an extent that the wood resembles the graphic texture of Alligator skin. This charring treatment draws all the caramelisation and texture to the surface area of the Oakwood which then goes on to influence the character of the spirit laid in the casks.

“What makes Cask Strength so interesting is the raw DNA of the whiskey,” said Lora Hemy, Head Distiller at Roe & Co, “When you taste this blend, it’s as if you’re sampling it straight from the cask.”

Roe & Co’s Master Blender George Harper added, “Different malts and grains all bring their own unique flavour characteristics as such each have their own positives and make up important building blocks to a blend. The carefully-selected Single Grain casks we use are picked for their exceptional flavour and style.”

This newest innovation was recently awarded Gold in DB & SB Autumn Tasting 2021.




Lucas Bols announced the global relaunch of its Bols Liqueurs, the world’s number one liqueur range, with natural botanicals. All its recipes are now crafted with natural botanicals to enrich their flavour and high quality.

Research confirms that 70% of consumers prefer cocktails made with the new Bols Liqueurs over competitive brands. To boost the relaunch, new trend-setting drink concepts have been introduced via a revolutionary cocktail gallery that’s scannable on the bottle via a QR Code. These encourage bartenders and consumers to use Bols Liqueurs as the main base for cocktails, creating drinks with less alcohol and less calories. This fits perfectly with today’s consumer preference to drink less but better. Bols Liqueurs with natural botanicals are available in newly-designed bottles distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

Bols, the world’s first cocktail brand established in 1575 and with a footprint in over 110 countries today, plays a leading role in the development of the global cocktail market. The Bols Liqueurs range, comprising more than 40 flavours, has always been known for its real fruit, herbal and spice flavours. This has put Bols in the top 10 most trending and best-sold liqueur brands in the world.

“As the world’s first cocktail brand, we want to inspire bartenders and consumers to create great cocktails,” says Sandie van Doorne, Creative & Communications Director at Lucas Bols, “Consumers around the world are increasingly conscious of their alcohol consumption and health. With our new Bols Liqueurs crafted with natural botanicals, we offer them a great base for high quality & tasteful cocktails which contain less alcohol and less calories.”

Revolutionary Cocktail Inspiration

The drink concepts Bols has launched use Bols Liqueurs as the base for cocktails, creating low alcohol & calorie drinks. Instead of using a high alcoholic cocktail base such as vodka, a Bols natural botanical liqueur lowers alcohol & calories significantly.

This online portal via the QR Code contains cocktail tutorials which vary from easy-to-make, low alcohol mixes to professional, complex cocktails and all kinds of information to enjoy making cocktails.

The new logo on the label is inspired by the Amsterdam calligraphy and centuries-old Bols logos, also aligning the look and feel with the Bols Genever range.



Created over 30 years ago, Passoã is a Brazillian Passionfruit liqueur with a full-bodied sweetness that brings a twist and burst of zest to the palate.

A unique exotic name with an appealing Passionfruit taste, 17% ABV Passoã is unmistakably tickled red with an intensely stimulating flavor.

Hugely versatile, it’s easy to mix or add a Passionfruit twist to classic cocktails such as a Porn Star Martini.

With Passoã there are no boundaries to the drinks you can make – from Sangria to serving with a Tonic or Ginger Ale – so add a little passion to your customers’ favorite classic and frozen cocktails.

Created over 30 years ago, the red liquid in the distinguishing black bottle has become a huge success. Proudly distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.


Cointreau – Art of the Mix

Cointreau Original triple sec spirit-lovers recognise Cointreau as a core building block in Premium cocktail creations.

Distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam, Cointreau is the cornerstone of more than 350 internationally-renowned cocktails including the Margarita, Sidecar and Cosmopolitan.

A masterpiece crafted through the unique distillation of all-natural sweet and bitter Orange peels results in a crystal-clear liqueur that strikes the perfect balance between sweetness and freshness.

For more than 30 years the finest Orange peels, carefully selected by Master Distiller Carole Quinton, have created the definitive Orange liqueur.

Did you know that the Margarita was originally created when Dallas socialite Margarita Sames mixed her two favorite spirits, Cointreau and Tequila, together with Lime juice while on vacation in Acapulco back in 1948?

This original Margarita recipe has stood the test of over 70 years.

Check out for more cocktail inspiration.



Win 12 kegs of Christmas

Christmas is just a click away with Diageo One, where placing orders this Christmas couldn’t be easier.

Diageo’s new customer website gives you 24/7 access and everything you need in one place. You can save time by managing your account, accessing industry insights, special offers and much more so why not log on to and try placing an order? It takes just two minutes.

Enter the competition to win 12 kegs of Guinness for your pub on Anyone with a Diageo One customer account in NI or ROI can enter the draw.

No purchase necessary and full T&Cs can be found at Open 15th Nov until 15th Dec 2021 at 11.59pm.



Following on from an already exciting year for Bulmers which saw the launch of a refreshed brand idea – ‘When Time Bears Fruit’ – and a year which saw the return to TV with the TVC ‘The Alchemy of The Orchard’, Bulmers is running a burst of Through-The-Line Christmas activity.

As part of a wider 360 campaign which will feature TV, OOH, Social and in-store activity, Bulmers is teaming-up with Chef John Relihan to develop a seasonally-relevant partnership which focuses on mulled cider and Christmas Ham.

The mulled cider is an exciting new way to enjoy Bulmers outside the more conventional over-ice serve. Working closely with John, a unique recipe was developed for highlighting in-store at the Point of Purchase so consumers can enjoy at home.

Additionally, Bulmers has collaborated further with John in developing a simple and yet highly delicious way to cook the Christmas ham with a recipe revolving around the use of Bulmers Original Cider.

Alternatively, a similar result can be achieved with Bulmers Light which contains 30% less calories.


Porterhouse Brew Co introduces Around The Clock 3

Following the extremely successful limited releases of the first two batches of Around the Clock in November 2020 and March 2021, Porterhouse Brew Co today introduces Around the Clock 3 – the third generation of its award-winning Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.

The pioneers of craft brewing in Ireland, Porterhouse Brew Co‘s Around the Clock 3 combines seven different malts complimented by seven separate hop additions boiled together continuously over the space of 24 hours using a method only used in Ireland by Porterhouse Brew Co itself.

This novel ‘Around the Clock’ brewing creates an immense flavour profile with distinctive malt character.

Following the brewing, the stout undergoes maturation exclusively in freshly-emptied Bourbon casks from Dingle Distillery for 250 days. This lengthy maturation process creates an even fuller, smoother and more flavoursome stout that these stouts have become renowned for, said Porterhouse Head Brewer Peter Mosley, “We’re delighted to have increased the yield for this batch, with 13,000 bottles available”.

The first batch of Around the Clock won both the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland Beer of the Year award & Beoir Beer of the Year. Both Around the Clock and Around the Clock 2 sold out quickly and the limited release of Around the Clock 3 is expected to do the same.

Around the Clock 3 is available at and selected off-licences.

Follow Porterhouse Brew Co on social media:

Instagram @porterhousebrewco

Twitter @PHBrew



Carlow Brewing Co’s Premium cider portfolio

With harvest season in full swing, Carlow Brewing Company, one of Ireland’s most well-established and respected craft breweries/cider houses has big plans for its cider brands.

The cider element of the brewery was a natural step, a second bite of the apple even, for Founder and Chief Executive Seamus O’Hara who continues to be driven by his passion for high quality craft-brewed beers and ciders. His Cider House has provided fertile ground for experimentation. It’s home to brands Falling Apple Cider, Craigies Irish Cider and more recent additions to the family Cooneys Irish Cider and Devils Bit Mountain Cider.

Although the four ciders are Premium brands produced using 100% Irish apples and using techniques from cider-making experts and specialists on the team, they offer different flavour profiles to cider-lovers. The perfect example of this is the recent release of two new cider 4-packs under the Falling Apple umbrella: Apple Crush is a medium sweet cider with a refreshing balance of sweet, dry and bitter flavours while Blushing Berry is a fruity and refreshing cider with flavours of Raspberry and Elderflower.

Respect and passion for high quality, fresh ingredients are values that are shared across the board by Seamus and his team.

“We manage the full process from orchard to glass, so offer a unique proposition in terms of provenance and authenticity for Irish cider,” he states.



Sign Up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's free