Our Industry Report previews what’s in store this Christmas.

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas last year Champagne and sparkling wine sold 14% of their total sales for the year while pubs enjoyed a 2.4% growth in sales for the months of November and December according to Nielsen’s review of last year’s Christmas market. Indeed alcohol figured in six of the top 20 sectors witnessing incremental sales in 2016.

Few in the on-trade have failed to identify the Festive season as a prime sales opportunity.

“Seasonality of drinks is now on the agenda and menus should reflect this,” believes John Nugent, Founder of Green & Fortune in London, speaking at the LVA Conference on ‘Your Pub’s Future’ this Autumn



Schwartzhog Herbal Liqueur

A popular Christmas choice, Schwartzhog is a medieval kräuter liqueur from the heart of Germany.

Distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, the versatile liqueur can be enjoyed cold, on the rocks or mixed across a range of cocktails.

Crafted with Wormwood, Buckbean and select herbs, roots and fruits of the forest, the secret medieval recipe has been handed down through generations of the Hardenberg family, whose family roots go back to the 11th Century.




Ireland’s Best Gin launches ‘Curious’ Christmas Gift Box

Only launched in May 2016, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin has captured the imagination of the nation.   From the curious mind of PJ Rigney, it has been voted Ireland’s best gin two years in a row (2016 & 2017) by the Irish public at the National Gin & Tonic fest.

Slow-distilled by hand with oriental botanicals and gunpowder tea at The Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, the eye-catching blue bottle makes for a stand-out gift.

Distributed by Dalcassian Wine & Spirits this Christmas the gin will be available in a fascinating new gift box.



Signature Red Grapefruit Serve:

Generous wedge of Fresh Red Grapefruit

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin – 40ml

Chilled Premium tonic -140ml

Garnish with a thick wedge of red grapefruit

Served over cubed Ice



Von Hallers Gin

Von Hallers Gin, the second super-premium brand from The Shed Distillery, is a very special gin, which will be appreciated by gin aficionados looking for something different and memorable this Christmas.

Distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, Von Hallers is born in one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens in Göttingen, Germany and slow-distilled at The Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo.

Just over a year ago Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin took the country by storm and now its curious creator, PJ Rigney, has embarked on an extraordinary new botanical journey with his good German friend, Count Carl Von Hardenberg Jr.

The result is Von Hallers small-batch gin, aromatic, distinctive and pure. Named after the celebrated 18th Century botanist Albrecht Von Haller, Von Hallers can be served with premium ginger beer, large ice cubes and a small wedge of orange.  This signature serve, developed around two of the gin’s core botanicals – German ginger and orange zest –  is best enjoyed over time, slowly, sip by sip.


Writers’ Tears Copper Pot

Writers’ Tears Copper Pot Irish whiskey is a unique take on the old Irish Pot Still whiskey; an amazing blend of aged Single Pot Still and Single Malt whiskey, both distilled in copper pots. The term ‘Copper Pot’ on the label is an honour to the age-old craft of whiskey production in Ireland. Each bottle of Writers’ Tears has gracefully passed through the copper pots to become the remarkable high-quality craft product that’s enjoyed today.

Writers’ Tears Copper Pot, triple-distilled, non-peated, matured and aged in American Oak bourbon casks, can be enjoyed neat, with a splash of water or mixed in whiskey cocktails.

This whiskey is gently spiced with a burst of ginger and butterscotch alongside flashes of apple and vanilla over background notes of toasted oak.

The range includes three gift options – single bottle whiskey in a stylish presentation pack; a glass-pack, complete with two stunning glasses and a mini book with a secret compartment containing three miniature (50ml) whiskeys.


The Irishman Founder’s Reserve

The Irishman Founder’s Reserve is inspired by whiskey-makers of bygone Ireland where Pot Still and Malt whiskeys were married to create a super-premium blend. The Founder’s Reserve is the original and signature blend created by founder Bernard Walsh using 70% Single Malt and 30% Single Pot Still.

This is unusual in itself, as Walsh Whiskey is the only creator of Irish blended whiskey to contain 100% whiskey distillates from the copper pot still and 0% grain or column still whiskey resulting in a much more flavoursome whiskey.

It’s triple-distilled and matured in Bourbon casks, with fragrant notes of green apple and honey giving way to pot still spice and Summer fruits and was recently awarded Gold at the 2017 Irish Whiskey Awards in the Best Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP less than €60) category.


Qs & As with PJ Rigney – MD, Dalcassian Wines & Spirits



Q              What’s the story behind Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin?

From the Curious Mind of PJ Rigney, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is slow distilled by hand with oriental botanicals and gunpowder tea at The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.

The method combines vapour distillation of fresh Chinese lemons, Kaffir limes and oriental grapefruits along with the intriguing gunpowder tea  and pot still distillation of eight other botanicals ranging from Chinese star anise to local Drumshanbo meadowsweet.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin was a long time in the making and indeed it was my travels across the world which eventually led to the final selection of botanicals in the recipe. The Shed Distillery marks a return to traditional distillation using gleaming medieval copper pot stills and is the first multi-purpose distillery of its kind in Ireland.


Q              Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin is less than two years old yet it’s helped put gin back into the minds of Irish consumers; what do you attribute to its success?

The Irish public has really embraced the brand and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin was voted Ireland’s Best Gin two years in a row at the national  Gin and Tonic Fest (2016 and 2017).   The taste and quality of the brand really seem to have resonated with consumers.   Irish people are very supportive of Irish brands as long as the brands deliver in terms of quality and authenticity.

Authenticity is central to Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.  It’s real, it’s not a fake.  It’s a super-premium gin and the modern consumer expects quality and substance.

It’s Connacht’s first-ever gin from the first distillery in Connacht in 101 years.  We’ve an excellent relationship with the Drumshanbo community and we’re committed to hiring local people.  We now employ 15 people at The Shed, the majority of whom were previously long-term unemployed.


Q         The blue bottle has now become almost iconic.  What was the inspiration for the bottle design?

The bottle was inspired by my many travels over the years.  The apothecary-style brings to life the history of gin and its medicinal purposes, also the sense of experimentation which is what modern gin is all about. The modern touches to the bottle represent the re-birth of gin as a super-premium spirit with endless opportunity to innovate.


Q         As a partner to the on-trade how are you as a business helping your trade customers drive sales?

We’ve a close association with Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, which distributes Drumshanbo.  Led by Managing Director John Dillon the 32-strong team works closely with bars, restaurants and venues across the country to develop bespoke recipes and menus and to educate consumers on the brand.  We’re strong supporters of the industry and also support the Irish Restaurant Awards and the Irish Hotels Federation.

Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, renowned owners of New York’s world famous Dead Rabbit bar, pay a special visit to  The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.

Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, renowned owners of New York’s world famous Dead Rabbit bar, pay a special visit to  The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.

Jefferson’s Bourbons

Treat your customers to something extra special this Christmas with Jefferson’s ‘ridiculously small-batch’ Bourbon.

Jefferson’s carefully selects small, esoteric lots of aged bourbon in barrels of various ages; they are then skillfully blended to achieve a perfectly balanced taste.  The barrels are chosen for their quality, age and taste profile.

Distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, the exquisite range includes:

Jefferson’s Very Small Batch, a smooth full bodied bourbon, big enough for the bourbon connoisseur yet approachable for the new premium bourbon drinkers

Jefferson’s Reserve, a big sophisticated complex bourbon with front loaded flavour and a deep wonderful finish, a marriage of 4 different bourbons aged up to 18 years

Jefferson’s Ocean, aged for 8 years on land and a further 6 months at sea – during the voyage the bourbon touches 5 continents, reaches 30 ports and crosses the equator 4 times.

The new Jefferson’s Groth Reserve Cask Finish, said to have first been aged in new American oak for six years. From there it was finished in Groth Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for a further nine months. Groth is a well-respected winery out of California’s Napa Valley, and its cabernet in particular is considered an awesome wine in its grape varietal category.



Uncover the possibilities of the night with Absolut’s new limited edition bottle

Absolut presents its latest limited-edition bottle, Absolut Uncover, featuring an interactive design allowing consumers to unwrap it, just like they would an actual gift. Absolut Uncover follows the brand’s creative tradition of introducing end-of-year limited-edition bottles featuring innovative and eye-catching design.

The coat’s design draws inspiration from the glimmer of a night sky. The bottle underneath the sleeve features a beautiful design that has been printed on the iconic transparent bottle.

Absolut has created two executions of this bottle to offer a variety for different markets.

“This holiday season we’d like to inspire you to shine with a bottle that can be the perfect gift to any party or celebration as it can be unwrapped like a present,” Says Gaia Gilardini, Absolut’s Global Communications Director.

Absolut has created four signature drinks inspired by the launch of this limited-edition bottle including unexpected ingredients. Absolut Uncover is limited to 2.8 million bottles distributed worldwide.


Absolut uncover cocktails


Absolut Soda

1 part Absolut Vodka

3 parts Soda Water

4 lime wedges

1 slice of cucumber

1 mint spring


Method: Pour Absolut Vodka into a glass, squeeze and discard two lime wedges, add ice cubes, top up with soda water and garnish with lime wedges, mint and cucumber.


Spicy Absolut Mule

2 parts Absolut Vodka

1 dash of lime juice

Ginger Beer

1 dash of Green Hot Sauce

1 wedge of lime


Method: Pour all ingredients into a mule cup filled with ice cubes and garnish with a lime wedge.

Absolut Winter Drop

1 part Absolut Vodka

1 part lemon juice

1 part Triple Sec

cinnamon & sugar mix for rimming

apple slice


Method: Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice cubes and shake until cold. Strain into a cinnamon and sugar rimmed chilled shot glass and garnish with an apple slice.


Salty Sea Breeze

2 parts Absolut Vodka

1 part grapefruit juice

3 parts cranberry juice

salt for rimming

zest of grapefruit


Method: Pour all ingredients into a chilled, salt-rimmed highball glass filled with ice cubes and garnish with a zest of grapefruit.



Remy Martin VSOP Cask Finish

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

It’s extremely versatile so you may enjoy it neat, on the rocks, frozen, or in cocktails. We recommend drinking it with ginger ale or in a classic cocktail such as the Brandy Crusta or the French Mojito.




The Botanist Gin

An exciting and unusual gin from Islay whisky distillery Bruichladdich, The Botanist is made in a Lomond still christened ‘Ugly Betty’ and contains no fewer than 31 botanicals of which 22 are native to the Southern Hebridean island itself. These latter include the likes of mugwort, meadowsweet and the enigmatic Lady’s Bedstraw flowers. The resultant dry gin is described, perhaps unsurprisingly, as ‘floral’. Distributed by Barry &Fitzwilliam.



Crystal-clear, 100% natural, Cointreau is a true sipping treat and your must-have spirit for the Cointreau Fizz cocktail or other classics including the Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Sidecar and White Lady. Distilled and crafted in Angers, France, using century-old methods to capture the most intense aromas from sweet and bitter orange peels, it’s renowned for its fine balance. Cointreau is at once intense and gentle, warming and refreshing, bitter and sweet. Distributed by Barry &Fitzwilliam.


‘Gins of the World Collection’ – A unique gin collection from Counterpoint Ireland

As consumers tend to look for more premium drinks at Christmas ‘The Gins of the World’ collection from Counterpoint will meet the most aspirational of tastes. A selection of six exceptionally crafted gins from Ireland and Europe, these gins first and foremost represent the best in distilling standards at the most premium level of liquid creation. The Collection shares in common recipes that tie the use of specific botanicals to the producer’s hinterland, a concept hugely personal to the owners.

Shortcross Gin, Ireland’s most-awarded premium gin, is made using uses Irish botanicals such as wild clover, elderflowers, elderberries and home-grown apples. Shortcross Gin has and once again won a gold award in the gin category at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, one of the world’s most influential spirits events.

The term ‘small batch production’ can genuinely be applied to Gin Sul,  as it is distilled in a petite 100 litre copper pot still by Stephan Garbe. Gin Sul is a Its citrus melody of Algarve lemons with an aroma from the Portuguese Rockrose that evokes memories of essential oils.

Beat Sidler & Gustav Inglin use Swiss alpine organic ingredients including hand-picked Swiss Alps junipers, alpine roses & chocolate mint and distilling them in a copper-still fired wood kiln to create the wonderful Breil Pur Gin. GinRaw, the Gastronomic Gin from Barcelona, uses a ‘low temperature’ distillation process popular in the kitchens of Michelin star restaurants to ensure that the essences of ingredients such as lemon peel, Kaffir lime leaves, black cardamom and coriander are transported to the finished liquid. Siegfried Gin, from the Rhineland, made from Linden blossoms with their warm honey and Jasmin notes, was not surprisingly voted the world’s best gin at the San Francisco Spirits Competition. Finally The final gin in the ‘Gins of the World’ Collection is Citedelle Gin, produced using 19 botanicals, and is renowned for how crisp and smooth it is, and balanced with a spicy finish.

Counterpoint Ireland is providing its customers this Christmas  with exceptional premium drinks. For information regarding The Gins of the World Collection contact Counterpoint Ireland on 1890 276 468.




Distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam, After Shock is a concept in high-strength schnapps-style liqueurs from Beam Suntory.

Aftershock was first marketed primarily to younger drinkers but has now become a popular favourite with

many age groups.

The cinnamon-flavoured Aftershock Red liqueur has proved immensely popular since its introduction.

A popular shooter on the drinking circuit since it was first released after the original, Red was a phenomenal


Aftershock Blue is a fresh combination of citrus and mint. Its striking colour catches the eye, while

its flavour and power are as potent as the original Hot Cinnamon version, with strong mint/citrus flavours

dominating. Take it in one, then take a deep breath. Best consumed Ice-cold and neat from a shot glass.



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 tastets great! All you need is a shot of ice-cold Jägermeister, 1/4 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!





Pommery Champagne 

Put some sparkle into your Christmas celebrations with Pommery Champagne.  One of just 16 Grand Marques Champagnes which make up the Champagne Academy, Dalcassian Wines & Spirits has recently taken on the House of Pommery. This is a very special year for Pommery as the House holds the Presidency of the Champagne Academy, an honour which only comes to each house once every 16 years.  Each Pommery is a harmonious combination of wines from the current harvest and the Domaine’s reserve wines. The House has the equivalent of a half-year’s harvest of reserve wines to maintain regularity each year no matter what the harvest is like.


Paul Mas

Paul Mas, one of the most recognised wine-makers from the Languedoc region, is one of the world’s most-awarded wineries (eighth in the world and the most-awarded winery in France). In the space of just 17 years Jean-Claude Mas, winemaker and owner of Les Domaines Paul Mas, has become a reference the world over for South of France wines. Old World wines with New World attitude is the essence of the Paul Mas character.  Dalcassian Wines & Spirits has worked with Paul Mas since the very beginning and now, as well as the supremely popular classics, the impressive portfolio boasts specialty wines including organic. Paul Mas produces authentic and affordable wines, “everyday luxury”, from single varietal wines (crafted with 40 different grape varieties) and single vineyards such as the Vignes de Nicole.




 Astoria wines are all made by the original, long-established wine-making Polegato family.  The multi-award-winning winery recently won the 2017 ‘Italian White Wine Winery of the Year’ at the New York International Wine competition. As official drinks partner to the Giro D’Italia, the Astoria bottle is now famed the world over. The Astoria taste owes much to the renowned climate of the Valdobbiadene vineyards in the Veneto region in Italy. Sommeliers in Europe’s most exclusive bars and restaurants list the Astoria range on their wine lists. Awards for the Astoria selection (available through Dalcassian Wines & Spirits) includes a Gold for the ‘Alisia’ Pinot Grigio at the 2012 World Wine championships while the Astoria ‘Caranto’ Pinot Noir has also been awarded top marks by the esteemed Wine Connection. As recent sponsors of both the IHF conference and the RAI Best Restaurant Awards, Filippo Polegato says, “The sophistication of wine lists in Ireland’s leading venues is impressive.  The modern Irish consumer clearly demands premium quality and extensive choice.”


Villa Maria

Sir George Fistonich founded the Villa Maria Estate in Auckland in 1961. With vision and determination he’s steered the company to a position where it has become New Zealand’s leading wine award-winner. Throughout the 1960s Villa Maria was a one-man band with George’s wife, Gail, supporting him in his venture.

Today, Villa Maria employs more than 250 permanent staff and exports wine to over 50 countries worldwide.

Villa Maria has been New Zealand’s leading wine award-winner, both nationally and internationally, since the early 1980s.  The repositioning of the Private Bin Range has seen sales surge. Villa Maria is now the number one New Zealand wine brand on the market – distributed here by Barry & Fitzwilliam – and is expected to grow a further 20% this year.  It’s now the fourth most-admired wine brand in the world according to Drinks International.



Hot Summer days, a long growing season and free-draining soils have helped Hawke’s Bay become one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions. A young Spanish emigrant Anthony Joseph Vidal was one of the first winemakers to appreciate the natural potential of the area.

He was 22 years old when he arrived in 1888. His first 11 years were spent working for his uncle, pioneer winemaker Joseph Soler. He moved to Hawkes Bay where in 1905 he purchased a small property in Hastings. It was from there he became one of New Zealand’s early wine innovators and his success led to expansion with further vineyard plantings.

Vidal wines, distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam, have a range at Estate level, Reserve and Legacy.

Vidal Estate Sauvignon Blanc won the International Trophy for Sauvignon Blanc at the Decanter Asian Awards in 2015. Anthony Joseph Vidal, Legacy Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 2012 won the International Trophy for Chardonnay in 2015.


Wolf Blass

One of Ireland’s favourite Australian wine brands, Wolf Blass celebrated another successful year at the International Wine Challenge this year. Its winemakers were awarded the Barossa Valley Shiraz Trophy for the Wolf Blass Platinum Label Shiraz 2013. Wolf Blass also won eight Gold, 23 Silver and 18 Bronze medals overall.

It was named International Red Winemaker of the Year for a record third time in 2016 as well as being named Winery of the Year by two separate panels that same year: Winestate Magazine and at the InterVin International Wine Awards.  The brand continues to impress in every competition it enters.

Many of Wolf Blass’s IWC award-winning wines are currently available in Ireland via exclusive Irish distributor Findlater & Co including President’s Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (Silver Medal) and the Yellow Label range of which the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz were all Bronze medal winners.

The brand’s accessible ‘Aussie Blend’ Red Label Shiraz-Cabernet – is a Bronze medal winner and the Wolf Blass Silver Label Chardonnay (Bronze medal) was a more recent introduction here.

Wolf Blass was established in the Barossa Valley in 1966 and has grown from a humble tin shed to become one of the world’s most successful and decorated wine brands. All told, it’s been the recipient of more than 3,000 medals and trophies at national and international wine shows.








The family-owned winery, named World’s Most Admired Wine Brand for a record third time by Drinks International, reclaimed its spot at the top of the annual list of 50 of the world’s most prestigious wine brands.

Torres has always been the highest-ranking European wine brand and always in either first or second position. This year it’s the only European winery in the Top 10.

In June it had more to celebrate following the release of the International Wine Challenge 2017 awards list: two flagship wines, Mas La Plana 2012 and Perpetual 2014, received top honours, winning three trophies between them – the highest accolades given.

Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon took home two of these trophies: one for Best Varietal Wine (International Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy) and another for Best Regional Wine (Penedès Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy), while Perpetual was voted the Best Priorat red (Priorat Red Trophy).

Milmanda, the Torres family’s top Chardonnay, joined the line-up with a Gold Medal, the IWC judges commenting that it was “a smashing example of quality Spanish Chardonnay with beautifully integrated oak complemented by white peach notes. Lush texture finishing on nectarine and apricot and a delicious hint of refreshing lime.”

Bodegas Torres is exclusively distributed in Ireland by Findlater & Co.












‘Light Up The Celebration’ with Heineken

With on-trade outlets nationwide preparing for the busiest month of the year, both the pub and Heineken Ireland recognise its importance with December being the month with the year’s largest sales volume. Christmas celebrations in pubs are a keystone for the whole Christmas period and Heineken will be present throughout.

“Heineken-specific Christmas Point-Of-Sale materials inviting consumers to ‘Light Up The Celebration’ is being provided to pubs throughout the country,” says Patrick Conway, On-Trade Director at Heineken Ireland.

A heavyweight advertising campaign including TV and Out-Of-Home will be aired from late November.



“My Goodness, My Guinness” in cans!

Guinness has launched a series of collectible cans to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the birth of the artist behind the iconic Guinness advertisements that date back from the 1930s to the 1960s, John Gilroy.

The limited-edition cans are now available in Ireland, illustrated with two of his iconic designs.

The artist behind Guinness’s eye-catching campaigns spanning four decades (1930-1961) is renowned for his vibrant, humorous and unforgettable designs which not only put Guinness on the map as an iconic brand advertiser but also revolutionised the global face of advertising as a whole. In keeping with the style of John Gilroy’s work, the illustrations are set against a white background – this time the canvas is the can – a striking contrast to the ‘black’ or ruby red beer inside.

“Gilroy’s iconic Guinness campaigns are recognised around the world,” commented Guinness Brand Manager Nin Taank.

One of the longest-running global campaigns in history, ‘My Goodness, My Guinness!’ features a hapless zoo keeper character – a caricature of Gilroy himself – but the two designs featured on the limited-edition cans are the smiling pint and the lobster.

“Not only was John Gilroy a gifted artist, he was an advertising revolutionary and ahead of his time,” explained Jim Gilroy of the Gilroy Estate,  “We’re very proud that his work is being commemorated in this way – how fitting that his lobster and sun designs should now feature on the Guinness can itself.”

These cans are now available in multi-pack format but the Gilroy smiling pint can is available exclusively from Musgraves.


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