Festive preferences

Last February Nielsen Ireland’s Commercial Director Matt Clark stated that alcohol was one of the top three categories to see strong and accelerated Christmas growth. Some €5.3 million was added to the normal off-trade sales of alcohol in the fortnight before the Big Day according to Nielsen. We preview the Irish cider, wine and spirits market this Christmas and take a look at what suppliers have in store.

According to Nielsen Ireland Commercial Director Matt Clark’s figures, only 16% of people intended to spend more on Christmas 2015 than they did on Christmas 2014 – initially – with 43% intending to spend the same.

But in its review of last Christmas Nielsen discovered that both retail volumes and values of Fast Moving Consumer Goods rose by 3.2% last Christmas (for the months of November and December).

The off-trade alcohol category grew 2.5% in value and 3.5% in volume over this period with off-trade alcohol sales growing 2.1% MAT to 27th December last year.

But off-trade sales grew 6.8% in the two weeks before Christmas when compared to the same two-week period in 2014.

Off-trade alcohol sales volumes in December last year were up 8.2% on those for December 2014 while values were up 6.1%.

Within this, off-trade stout sales grew 9% in value and 17% in volume for the month of December versus the same month in 2014. Whiskey grew 5% in value and 4% in volume, sparkling wines grew 31% in value and 24% in volume.

Nielsen found that sparkling wines witnessed an incremental sales increase of €1.7 million for the period November-December compared to the same two months in 2014.

Similarly Champagne and cream liqueurs saw an incremental sales increase of €800,000 each. Gin was up 31% in value and 6% in volume and ale recorded growth of 20% in both value and volume.

Lager and NABLABs grew 2% in value and 6% in volume while cream liqueurs grew 8% in value and 5% in volume. Table wines grew 9% in value and 12% in volume.

But beer and soft drinks sales dominated the Top 10 FMCG brands in the 12 weeks to the weekend of 4th January.


Sparkling wine most popular purchase

In the UK, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association placed sparkling wine at the top of the alcohol drinks tree last Christmas. It was the category that people were most likely to consume more of over the Festive season, purchasing more of it than any alcohol category.

A YouGov poll featured in the WSTA’s Market Report showed over a third (36%) of people polled stating that they drank more sparkling wine during the Festive season than at any other time of the year.

The next most popular categories were red and white wines.

Indeed wine of one sort or another occupied the top three spots in terms of changes in consumption with red following sparkling in second place at 31% and at 29%, white winning the third spot.

The same YouGov poll also revealed that red wine is the most popular alcoholic Christmas gift, with 28% of people selecting it as their gift of choice. This was closely followed by sparkling wine for 27% of people and in third place – chosen by 23% of people – Scotch Whisky.

YouGov’s Top10 alcoholic drinks people consume more of over the Christmas period (1st December to 1st January):


  1.  – Sparkling Wine
  2.  – Red Wine
  3.  – White Wine
  4.  – Lager
  5.  – Fortified Wine (port or sherry)
  6.  – Vodka
  7.  – Cider
  8.  – Rose Wine
  9.  – Ale
  10.  – Gin

Top 10 most popular alcoholic drinks as Christmas presents:


  1. Red Wine
  2. Sparkling Wine
  3. Scotch Whisky
  4. White Wine
  5. Vodka
  6. Rose Wine
  7. Other Whisky/Whiskey
  8. Fortified Wine (Port or Sherry)
  9. Gin
  10. Ale



Christmas Cheer is on Bulmers this year


This Christmas, Bulmers brings goodwill and cheer to pub-goers all over Ireland with its most dynamic and far-reaching sampling campaign ever.

Not only is Bulmers the best-selling cider in Ireland with an on-trade market share of 86% but the team at Bulmers has only gone and decided to buy the biggest Christmas round for consumers all over the country this December.

Bulmers’ sampling teams will be offering your customers a complimentary draught Bulmers Original or a Bulmers Light for the season that’s in it because Christmas is all about the joy of giving. The initiative has been designed to thank consumers for their loyal support in keeping Bulmers at the top of the tree for 2016.

The sampling teams will be visiting major cities around Ireland, spreading Clonmel-produced Christmas cheer to thousands of consumers who’ll welcome an early Christmas present.

Bulmers remains a year-round drink of choice for adults in Ireland, with peaks at key selling periods such as Christmas and New Year. And, in taste-tests, Bulmers sparkles as the most refreshing and great-tasting LAD when compared to leading competitor brands.

So, when your customers ask for a drink that’s refreshing, delicious and Irish this Christmas, make sure it’s a Bulmers – always an original.






Grey Goose Le Fizz, the ultimate celebratory cocktail

grey_goose_original_1l_bottlelowWhat you’ll need:

35.5ml Grey Goose vodka

25ml St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur

20ml freshly-squeezed lime juicegrey_goose_le_fizzlow

75ml Soda water


stgbottleHow to make: Add Grey Goose vodka, St-Germain and lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Then top with cubed ice and shake vigorously. Fine-strain into a chilled flute and top with soda water.





Bacardí Rum Old Fashioned

old_fashionedlowCreated in New York in the early 1900s, the Old Fashioned was the first recorded cocktail recipe. But even the most established classics can do with a refresh every now and then. Try it with Bacardí Ocho rum and call yourself a visionary.bac_ocholow


What you’ll need:

35.5ml Bacardí Ocho
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Splash of water
1-2 tsp sugar
1 orange zest


How to make: Use a bar spoon to combine sugar, water and bitters in a glass. Then add half the Bacardí Ocho, drop in two or three large ice cubes and stir. Repeat with more ice cubes and the rest of the rum. Finally, cut a piece of orange peel, squeeze it over the drink to release the zest & drop it into the drink.




Available from Barry & Fitzwilliam in various sizes from 2cl to a litre, Jägermeister is always a huge hit around Christmas-time. Its unique blend of 56 herbs, spices, roots and fruits means it lends itself well to the festive season and the colder weather.

Jägermeister is best served at -18° C as a shot (so best kept in the freezer) but for those who fancy something a little different, Jägermeister and Winter drinks go surprisingly well together.

The first option could be a Jäger Ginger: it’s easy to make and tastes great! All you need is a shot of ice-cold Jägermeister, ¼ lime, a slice of cucumber, some ginger beer and ice!

For those who need a kick, there are some spicy ginger beer options available. Another winter favourite is the Jäger Grog, a hot drink hugely popular in ski-resorts and colder regions. For the perfect pot of Jäger Grog for four, try adding 20cl of Jägermeister to a pot of regular breakfast tea, squeeze two oranges into the pot, add a teaspoon of vanilla sugar, a cinnamon stick and two cloves; stir the mix and let sit for a couple of minutes. Both drinks are sure to fight those winter blues!



‘WKD for the now’


WKD, one of Ireland’s top-selling RTD brands, is undergoing a radical re-invention. Brand owner SHS Drinks is launching two new, lower-calorie contemporary WKD flavour combinations and introducing a revolutionary new pack design across the WKD range. A dedicated communications programme ‘WKD for the Now’ will increase awareness of the developments on social media, on digital platforms and through traditional media outlets.

The re-invention co-incides with the 20th anniversary of the iconic RTD brand’s launch in 1996 and will ensure that WKD resonates with the lifestyle of today’s 18 to 24-year-olds. SHS Drinks estimates that attracting one million new drinkers over the next three years could generate €75 million in sales for the RTD category across the total take-home and on-trade channels.

There are four variants in the WKD range: the original WKD Blue; WKD Iron Brew; WKD Berry and WKD Blush (passion fruit). The transformational pack design and contemporary new 275ml and 700ml bottle shapes with bottle caps in a variety of bold bright colours add an element of fun. No changes have been made to flavour, RRP or ABV which remains at 4%.

All four WKD variants will be available in the new single 275ml and 700ml bottles and WKD Blue will also be available in 10 x 275ml multipacks along with a Mixed Flavour 10-pack. In a bold move, WKD is prioritising single 275ml bottles over the 275ml 4-pack format in multiple grocers to encourage trial and attract new RTD consumers.

New imagery is being introduced for all outer cases.

SHS Drinks also plans to extend the WKD family with the introduction of a new ‘lighter’, lower-calorie range towards the end of this year.

“This isn’t a re-launch, it’s a reinvention of the WKD brand which has championed the development of the RTD category over the last two decades,” says Jo Sykes who’s spearheaded the WKD transformation project team over the past year, “WKD is a great brand with a great track-record and it has a number of core product qualities – the right taste, the right level of alcohol and it provides an energising lift – all of which have strong appeal for today’s 18 to 24 year-old consumers, but as a brand proposition it needs to be made more relevant to this new generation of consumers”.

SHS Drinks’ Deep Dive research amongst 2,000 18 to 24 year-olds looked at key consumers of RTDs, exploring their attitudes and aspirations, drinks and drinking occasions. It also highlighted opportunities to reinvent the WKD brand and at the same time, reinvigorate the multimillion take-home RTD category.

“When WKD first launched, the lads/ladettes culture was prominent in Ireland, though this has changed,” explained Brendan Loughran, Head of its Business Unit in Ireland, “70% of 18/19-year-olds are still studying and young people are living with their parents longer. Young people want to be taken seriously and in today’s digital era image is everything. Individuals want to be in control of that but still have fun and enjoy themselves.

“We want to make the RTD fixture look inviting and exciting again so that 18 and 19 year-olds are inspired to shop that part of the long drinks aisle. That’s why we’re switching our focus to single 275ml bottles and why we’re planning to launch two new lower-calorie variants which will add more flavours and choice as well as a further layer of sophistication. We also want to increase the focus on our Mixed Flavour 10-pack which we believe plays an important part in encouraging trial as it’s a great party pack.

“The launch of WKD Blush earlier this year and this Summer’s WKD Blush Hour campaign was a tentative step-change for the brand in trying out some new conceptual ideas and shifting towards a more balanced gender positioning. The response from retail customers as well as consumers has been extremely positive and has helped shape the plans we’re now unveiling”



SONY DSCSanta Rita Medalla Real, Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley

The grapes for Santa Rita’s Medalla Real wines are exclusively selected and hand-picked at the ideal stage of ripeness from the best and oldest vineyards in the Maipo Valley. The result is a true enological masterpiece: complex and concentrated, elegant and classic in style, deep ruby-red in color, with a bouquet of black fruits such as blackcurrants, blueberries and blackberries with dried figs, cigar box and spice notes. The concentrated palate offers well-rounded ripe tannins that create the prominent backbone that leads the wine on to a long, lingering finish.

This wine is an ideal Winter warmer and perfect for any occasion over the festive season.


Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Chardonnay

wbr_750ml_chard_nv_19in_rgb_rev-standard_final_jpg-ca-ecm2010114-revision-14For 30 years Robert Mondavi has been making classic wines that reflect the diversity of California’s winegrowing regions. The wine style is marked by bright fruit flavours and smooth finishes, perfect for complementing food. The wines are ideal for dinner parties over the Christmas period.

Woodbridge Chardonnay displays aromas of tropical fruit with a hint of cinnamon and maple, leading to a rich, toasty finish. This vibrant, medium-bodied Chardonnay is lovely to pair with appetisers, including grilled Summer vegetables and fresh fruits.




Black Tower Christmas Special

black-tower-winter-sleevelowComplete the festivities with the limited-edition Black Tower Christmas sleeve. With its exceptional taste and eye-catching sleeve design, Black Tower complements your customers’ Christmas dinner and their festive table setting.







B by Black Tower


Celebrate Christmas and keep slim! B by Black Tower is a delicious low calorie wine with only 55 cals per glass, allowing you more room for Christmas pudding. RSP €6.49; look out for €5 Christmas promotions.







B Secco

Party through Christmas and the New Year with B Secco! A light refreshing sparkling low calorie wine with only 55cals per glass, B Secco will help your customers stay light on their feet.




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