Tag Archives: 2021

Ambrosia Awards 2021

The 14th edition of INDSPIRIT 2021, organized by Ambrosia, the wine and spirit magazine, held on December 17th 2021 in New Delhi, came as a much needed breather to the alcobev industry. Industry leaders and other stakeholders descended upon Hotel Andaz for IndSpirit 2021, primarily to ‘reconnect’ with the alcobev community.

INDSPIRIT 2021, a mix of conference, exhibition and awards, was a runaway success, not just because ofthe huge number of attendees, but because it set a ‘positive tone’ for the industry.

The Managing Director of SAP Media Worldwide, Mr. Trilok Desai, set the tone for INDSPIRIT 2021 by talking about how the alcobev sector was bouncing back with a positive outlook, after a lull of almost two years adversely affected by the pandemic.

Braving the Delhi winter, industry stakeholders turned out in good number, endorsing the spirit of Ambrosia to move on, overcome the challenges and grab the opportunities. The coming together of the industry was heartening to note for a sector which has so much to offer, thanks to quality enhancements, innovation and camaraderie. Cheers to the Alcobev sector, INDSPIRIT and Ambrosia for saying ‘goodbye to 2021’ and welcoming 2022 with a lot of hope.

Ambrosia Awards 2021 Winners

Category – Beer

BEST MILD BEER

Tag Premium Lager Beer

BEST BEER – STRONG CATEGORY

Bira 91 Gold Wheat Strong Beer

BEST BEER – STRONG CATEGORY

Sterren 8 Premium Strong Beer

Category – Wine

BEST POPULAR WHITE WINE

Fumé Blanc

BEST PREMIUM WHITE WINE

Soma Chardonnay Reserve

BEST PREMIUM INDIAN RED WINE

Reveilo Reserve Syrah

BEST POPULAR IMPORTED RED WINE

Born West Cabernet Sauvignon

BEST SUPER PREMIUM IMPORTED RED WINE

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

BEST SPARKLING WINE

Casablanca Spumante Sparkling Wine

Category – Vodka

BEST POPULAR VODKA

One More Pure Craft Vodka

BEST PREMIUM VODKA

Smoke Classic Vodka

BEST SUPER PREMIUM VODKA

Stolichnaya Premium Vodka

BEST SUPER PREMIUM VODKA

Juno Premium Pink Flavoured Vodka

BEST PREMIUM FLAVOURED VODKA

Magic Moments Verve Cranberry Tease Premium Flavoured Vodka

BEST SUPER PREMIUM FLAVOURED VODKA

Absolut Grapefruit Vodka

Category – Gin

BEST PREMIUM GIN

Beefeater London Dry Gin

BEST SUPER PREMIUM GIN

Roku Japanese Craft Gin

BEST FLAVOURED GIN

Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb And Ginger

Category – Rum

BEST POPULAR BLACK RUM

Commander N Chief Caribbean Gold XXX Rum

BEST PREMUIM BLACK RUM

1965 Spirit Of Victory Premium XXX Rum

BEST PREMIUM RUM

Amrut Two Indies Rum

BEST WHITE RUM

Aspira Lemon Twist Rum

Category – Brandy

BEST POPULAR BRANDY

British Empire Brandy

BEST PREMIUM BRANDY

Courrier Napoleon Finest French Brandy

Category – Whisky

BEST IMFL REGULAR WHISKY

Royal Green Whisky

BEST IMFL POPULAR WHISKY

Oaksmith International Blended Whisky

BEST IMFL SEMI PREMIUM WHISKY

Single Reserva Premium Whisky

BEST IMFL SEMI PREMIUM WHISKY

Whistler Blended Malt Whisky

Best IMFL PREMIUM WHISKY

Signature Premier Grain Whisky

BEST FLAVOURED WHISKY

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Flavoured Whisky

BEST BLENDED SCOTCH BII

Grant’s Distinction Blended Scotch Whisky

BEST SCOTCH (BIO) ABOVE 12 YRS WHISKY

Dewar’s 15 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky

BEST INDIAN SINGLE MALT

The Three Monkeys Indian Single Malt Whisky

BEST SINGLE MALT

Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Aged 12 Years

PACKAGING AWARDS INDSPIRIT 2021

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (UNIT PACK)

United’s Epitome Reserve Rare Grain Whisky

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (UNIT PACK)

Glenfiddich Limited Edition Gift Pack

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (GRAPHICS)

8 PM Premium Black Whisky Cricksaw and Howzat

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (IDEA)

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BEER CANISTER)

Bira 91 Gold Wheat Strong Beer

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (CANNISTER)

Morpheus Blue XO Premium Brandy

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BEER BOTTLE)

Sterren 8 Premium Strong Beer

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BOTTLE SHAPE)

Roku Japanese Craft Gin

BEST PACKAGING AWARD (BOTTLE SHAPE)

Bacardi Reserva Ocho Aged 8 Years

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS INDSPIRIT 2021

FASTEST GROWING BRAND

Rockford Reserve Whisky & Rockford Classic Whisky

EXCELLENCE IN BRAND PROMOTION AND MARKETING

1965 Spirit Of Victory Premium XXX Rum

EXCELLENCE IN BRAND PROMOTION AND MARKETING

Oaksmith God International Blended Whisky

EXCELLENCE IN RETAIL AND DISTRIBUTION

STAR Agencies

NEW PRODUCT OF THE YEAR

United’s Epitome Reserve Rare Grain Whisky

SPECIAL FELICITATION FOR COMPLETEING 11 YEARS

Hospitality Purchasing Managers & Forum (HPMF)

START-UP OF THE YEAR

Kimaya Himalayan Beverages

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Ankur Jain

Founder & CEO

Bira 91

BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR

Abhishek Khaitan

Managing Director

Radico Khaitan Limited

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR

Shobhan Roy

Top Bar Trends for 2021

The top bar trends for the new year include creative ways bar owners are adapting to save their businesses and preserve bar culture.

Off-Premise Alcohol Sales

For bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, off-premise sales will be an essential bar industry trend in 2021. Many businesses have already dipped their toe into alcohol takeout options, but the new year will see a surge of off-premise alcohol sales. The pandemic gave this already growing segment a boost and we expect breweries, distilleries, and beer distributors to get in on the action. Off-premise sales can take several forms:

Cocktail Kits – These drink kits are popping up on takeout menus everywhere. The perfect kit contains all the ingredients, and sometimes the tools, needed to create signature cocktails at home.

Growler Pours – Regulations on growler fills vary by state, but where allowed, growlers provide a safe option for beer enthusiasts to enjoy craft beer from their favourite brewery.

Adult Slushies – These boozy slushies are the adult version of your favourite childhood treat. States like Pennsylvania allow the sale of these frozen cocktails for takeout. To-go cocktail containers and supplies make it easy to send customers home with adult slushies or mixed drinks.

Whole Bottle Sales – Liquidation of liquor inventory was a knee-jerk reaction when the pandemic hit, but whole bottle sales by bars and restaurants are predicted to continue in the new year.

Alcohol Delivery

The intricate laws governing alcohol delivery were loosened in the last year, giving bars and restaurants in some states the opportunity to offer alcohol options on their delivery menu.

The demand for alcohol delivery will only continue to grow in 2021 as the expectation for convenience climbs ever higher. To take advantage of this trend, bars and restaurants may have to jump through a few hoops to make sure they are abiding by state and local regulations.

Curated Subscription Services

If the theme of 2021 is “drinking at home” then curated subscription services are another bar trend that helps to connect bar owners with their customer base, beyond just basic alcohol delivery. Some bars have kept their bartenders employed by putting them to work on cocktail subscriptions that channel their mixology talents into a slightly different medium.

Breweries are partnering with subscription services like Tavour, an app-based business that notifies subscribers immediately when new, highly rated craft beers become available for shipping. For wine bars, a hand-selected bottle with a handwritten note from the in-house sommelier makes a special monthly subscription box for wine lovers. These types of services will continue to become more creative and more sought after in the new year.

Digital Shops and Merchandise

Branded merchandise is nothing new for bars, but you can expect a more sophisticated digital shopping experience in 2021. For many bar websites, the merchandise page used to be an afterthought with a limited product offering. Standard merch might include a branded t-shirt, a shot glass, and maybe a beer glass or two.

Bars will be upping the ante and making improvements to their merchandise selection to include branded growlers, bar tools, and high-quality apparel. If customers can’t visit their favourite watering hole, they can show their support by bringing a little piece of the bar into their home.

Craft Canned Cocktails

The canned beverage trend was already quite popular when the pandemic gave it an even bigger boost. Now canned hard seltzer and canned rose wine aren’t the only stars of the show. Ready-to-drink cocktails in a can are an appealing bar trend for a few different reasons.

For one, the quality of canned cocktails has vastly improved and you can expect a perfectly blended drink that rivals a made-from-scratch cocktail. Also consider the safety benefits of offering your customers a pre-packaged beverage verses a hand-mixed cocktail. To top it off, a canned cocktail is a convenient option for imbibing in the comfort of your own home.

Premium Products

Quality over quantity is another common theme for 2021. All the time spent in quarantine has resulted in many drinkers becoming quite educated about mixing their own cocktails. This has a far-reaching impact on the industry because educated consumers expect the best and they’re willing to pay for premium spirits and ingredients.

Bars can take advantage of this shift by offering a smaller cocktail list that features local, sustainable, or top-shelf spirits. Use illustrative drink descriptions on your menu and don’t neglect the mixers. Premium bar ingredients like homemade bitters and infused simple syrups can elevate the cocktail experience even more.

Outdoor Drinking Spaces

The past year has shown that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities, which has left many bars looking for ways to create outdoor drinking spaces. The question becomes, how do you provide an outdoor drinking space when you have no available space? For bars located in certain parts of the country, the outside temperature alone is a huge obstacle to overcome.

In 2021, bars will become more creative with their approach to outdoor drinking. Alleys, parking lots, and sidewalks will be transformed into temporary drinking spaces and remodels to balconies and rooftops will increase. To battle the cold temps and create an outdoor winter destination, bar culture will start to include a different type of BYOB in the form of bring your own blanket.

Advanced Online Ordering

Online ordering is a big part of the pivotal shift to reduce contact in the hospitality industry and allow consumers to perform most functions digitally. As the platforms designed for online ordering become more advanced, we will see enhanced options for bar service.

Instead of ordering drinks directly from a bartender, online ordering and digital payment can be performed by mobile phone to reduce person-to-person contact. In the past, online ordering was commonly used prior to arriving at the destination. In 2021, we’ll see online ordering being used as a method of ordering drinks and food onsite.

Social Media Presence

Social media is the gathering place where many go to feel like they are connected. With the present challenges imposed by the pandemic, an increased social media presence provides a way bar owners can connect with their customer base in spite of an onsite closure. But in 2021, maintaining a social media presence goes beyond just making regular Instagram updates.

Weekly video tutorials that put the mixologist front and center help to keep customers loyal to their favourite bar. Videos can be posted for free or offered as a subscription service to increase revenue. Many bars will start offering digital gatherings like wine or whiskey tastings in conjunction with an alcohol purchase so customers can follow along virtually.

For bar owners in 2021, the stakes are much higher than they’ve ever been. The bar industry trends that will shape the future bar scene are being adopted out of necessity rather than a need to keep up with changing fads. Diversifying revenue streams and providing safe, convenient methods of serving will continue to dominate bar culture for the unforeseeable future.

Alcobev Sector enhances customer delight, thanks to Artificial Intelligence

In 2019, Swedish whisky distillery Mackmyra released Intelligens, said to be the ‘world’s first’ whisky created using AI. Mackmyra collaborated with Microsoft and a Finland-based tech company – Fourkind, and using customer feedback data, they created AI algorithms which picked up recipes that were a delight for the end-consumer.

Microsoft, IBM and other tech companies are active in alcobev

Microsoft, IBM and other digital technology players were making significant forays into the alcobev industry. And the big boys of the alcobev industry soon realised how transformative this could be for the industry itself. They had seen the dividends the retail sector was earning and one by one, they started introducing digital technologies in their processes and the going has been good. Microsoft pitched to Danish multinational brewer Carlsberg for the ‘Beer Fingerprinting Project’ and the two used machine learning to good effect. They fed with beer ingredient characteristics to map out and predict beer flavours, shortening the time it takes to develop new beers. Then there was US-based Sugar Creek Brewing Company which tied up with IBM to use AI to improve its beer manufacturing line where there was a monthly beer spillage amounting to $30,000.

Diageo’s ‘What’s Your Whisky’ is so so customer-centric

One of the global leaders in alcoholic beverages, Diageo launched ‘What’s Your Whisky Selector’, an innovative digital experience that has found favor and flavor with many a whisky connoisseur. What did ‘What’s Your Whisky’ do? It simply used AI and ML to analyse customer’s flavour preferences (variety of sweet, fruity, spicy and smoky flavours found in Single Malt whiskies) and recommended a Single Malt whose flavour profile most closely matched the customer’s taste. Customer delight is something no company would want to miss out on. Diageo rolled-out this experience in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Ok, it is not available in India which boasts of the largest base of whisky drinkers! Diageo said that intelligent automation is deployed in over 100 applications across its business. “Through predictive analytics, machine leaning and robotics process automation, we are growing more productive and more competitive.”Around the same time, other alcobev behemoths such as Beam Suntory, Bacardi, AB InBev, Pernod Ricard and others had also started putting their money on AI, ML and robotics to enhance manufacturing and operational processes and importantly on introducing a new dimension to customer experience.

A lot is brewing in AB InBev’s Beer Garage

Belgium-based AB InBev has something brewing in its ‘Beer Garage’ wherein machine learning is at play. AB inBev has invested in data-driven solutions to help improve beer brewing on the production side, while on the customer side, it is enhancing its customer engagement programme. The world’s largest beer maker (Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona) is using low-cost sensors and machine learning to predict malfunctioning in its brewery, getting to fix it before it happens and thus avoiding huge downtime. Beer Garage is scaling the company’s existing capabilities in AI, ML, Internet of Things, Cloud & data analytics, automation and robotics, and exploring emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AR & VR and others. Innovation at AB InBev drives its commercial strategy, supply chain, and is building sustainable business to improve lives in communities around the world. These technologies are providing the company with unprecedented insight into the needs of its consumers and customers and supporting the growth of the beer category.

Beam Suntory Mexico plant uses drones in agave fields

Beam Suntory, the world’s third largest premium spirits company, deployed drones and AI in its Casa Sauza project. Drones helped the company get an accurate inventory of the agave (Tequila) plants in the fields and to reduce the time it takes to complete the inventory. An AI process is applied to ensure only agave plants, not weeds or any other material, are counted. The inventory data is loaded and tracked in the Sauza Blue Harvest application and later transferred to SAP for SKU tracking. The drone technology is used to manage, monitor and increase crop productivity, and to assist in diagnosing the health and vitality of the agave plants. Beam Suntory is also using digital manufacturing from Rockwell Automation and Cisco to overhaul its business models, improve efficiencies, streamline logistics and update its network. “The future’s promising for Beam’s IT infrastructure and for our networks, and how we can leverage automation and productivity, improving our flavours and our brands. It’s very important to Beam, and I think we’re really moving forward in a good direction,” said Amon Hogue, Senior Network Architect at Beam Suntory.

Pernod Ricard Winemakers gets accurate grape yield

Early this year, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the premium wine division of Pernod Ricard, took on board Complexica, a leading provider of AI software for supply and demand optimisation. It went live with Complexica’s Decision Cloud software platform in Marlborough, New Zealand in what is Pernod Ricard’s largest global technology project. It plans further go-lives in Australia for finished goods planning and production scheduling, followed by Australian and Church Road winery operations, which forms part of a wider programme of activity to enable the business to utilise technology to work faster, smarter and safer. Pernod Ricard Winemakers also engaged Trellis to support its business and supply chain operations by providing accurate grape yield, quality, harvest timing and procurement cost prediction across Australia and New Zealand.

Bacardi’s cool cocktail-making app

Bacardi this year launched a new cocktail-making app that has helped those who were dishing up new cocktail recipes during the pandemic. The app aims to reimagine the bar setting, besides giving bartenders a platform to showcase their talent. The app launched in the US and UK helped boost consumer confidence in making cocktails at home. Bacardi also signed up EPAM which streamlined the spirits manufacturer’s digital environment by implementing a digital platform for multiple brands including Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka, Breezer, Patron Tequila and more. The DevOps automation platform resulted in 16 times greater website development capacity, and a 42% reduction in infrastructure costs.

Digitization in alcobev still nascent

Though deployment of digital technologies is still in its nascent stages in the alcobev sector, there are a number of early adopters who have invested in digital technologies to not only create flavour profiles faster, but also for other functions, including packaging, logistics, marketing and other processes. It is no-brainer that AI has the power to transform the alcobev industry forever, albeit it is happening at a gradual pace. In fact, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of deployment of AI in the alcobev sector as online deliveries became common; home drinking was becoming the norm; and consumers were looking at new recipes. According to US-based FasTrax Solutions, total alcohol sales registered an increase of 25.5% in 2020, driven by digital marketing initiatives with AI at the core. It said in the US beer sales increased by 20.2%; wine by 30.1%; and spirits by 34.1%. Thanks to e-commerce, the sales figures are looking impressive in these difficult times. Also came along the virtual sommelier, guiding consumers on how to buy wine, how to grow vines and how to taste / judge them. In fact, some winemakers have started investing in AI in their vineyards wherein it gives insights into soil management, pest control etc. Experts believe that large vineyards will deploy drones to help growers manage their yield better. Robots will also be at work to improve efficiencies at the vineyard.

Smart factories’ the future

Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, digital transformation and technology services, has said that beverage manufacturing companies plan to build 40% more ‘smart factories’ in the next five years. It estimates that smart factories will contribute between USD 1.5 trillion and 2.2 trillion to the global economy. And what are ‘smart factories’? They are those that leverage digital technologies to gain significant improvements in productivity, quality, flexibility and service. Three key digital technologies enable the smart factor – Connectivity (collecting data from existing equipment and new sensors); Intelligent automation (drones, machine vision etc); and Cloud-scale data management and analytics. The alcobev industry, one of the oldest in the world, though maybe late entrant to the digitization mode, but has soon caught up. From robots to drones to AI to ML, technology is becoming a key driver for not just growth, but a new customer experience. After all, customer experience matters.

Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Single Malt Whiskies crowned as the Best Whiskies of the 2021

The 2021 edition of the International Whisky Competition was held from May 12- May 16 in Colorado, USA where a professional tasting panel comprising of whisky, wine and beer connoisseurs came together to determine the top whiskies of 2021. The Ardbeg Uigadail emerged as the “Best Whisky of the Year”, while Glenmorangie Vintage 1997 claimed second position. Dr Bill Lumsden of The Glenmorangie Company won the distinguished “Master Distiller of the Year” title, as a testimony of his vast experience, consistency and mastery in the art of distilling and creating remarkable whiskies.

As six out of top 15 whiskies were awarded to different expressions of Ardbeg and Glenmorangie, it truly demonstrates the craftsmanship and deliciousness of these whiskies. The variants that clinched these top positions include Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old, Glenmorangie Signet, Ardbeg An Oa and Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban that ranked 9th, 10th, 13th and 15th respectively.

Judged via blind tasting, each whisky was scored using a comprehensive 100-point scale system through an 8 minutes tasting session. The whiskies were rated on factors such as visual appeal, intensity and complexity, distinctiveness of aromas and flavours, and quality of finish, with three medals being awarded for each category. Thus, each win is unique and not duplicated with generic awards.

The noteworthy wins for Moët Hennessy at the 2021 International Whisky Competition establishes its brands’ expressions as favourites not only amongst the experts, but spirit aficionados and consumers across the world.