3 x Booze brands challenging convention

With travel restrictions in place across the world, consumers are seeking new ways to experience different tastes and cultures. This is creating a unique opportunity in premium spirits, as emergent distillers introduce drinkers to global flavours they can enjoy at home.

The spirits market is still largely rooted in tradition, with particular products strongly associated with specific cultures and places. But as the sector becomes more crowded, new launches are challenging convention.

We look at three distillers creating elevated spirits that transport drinkers to unexpected territories.

1. Aussie Rye

Although rye whisky hails from North America (with US law requiring the spirit to be distilled from at least 51% rye grain), Melbourne-based The Gospel has launched Solera Rye – the first rye whisky made with 100% Australian ingredients.

Image Credit: The Gospel

The distillery uses a single-source unmalted rye grown in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia, which according to The Gospel is ‘one of the driest regions of the driest country in the world’.

Solera Rye follows a trend for the consumption of rye-based spirits in Australia – the fourth largest bourbon market in the world according to the New York Times.

2. Mexican Whisky

Spirits such as tequila and mezcal are typically associated with Mexico’s drinking culture, but now whisky is following close behind. According to InsideHook, whisky is the second most-consumed spirit in the country, where Scottish and American brands currently account for 98% of the market.

Image Credit: Abasolo

Hoping to change that is Abasolo, a newly-launched whisky made from 100% cacahuazintle corn. This Mexican-grown crop has been cultivated for more than 200 generations and is known for its nuanced flavour. With notes of honey, vanilla and black tea, Abasolo said it aims to uncover ancestral flavours with the spirit. The brand also uses a process known as nixtamalisation, a 4,000-year-old cooking technique that is fundamental to Mexican cuisine but has never been used before in whisky production.

3. Scottish Shochu

Our third unconventional new spirit is a brand we had a hand in creating – Inugami, the Scottish shochu from BrewDog Distilling Co.

Image Credit: Brewdog Distilling Co.

Dave Palmer, LOVE’s founder and ECD, explains its origins: “Inugami is inspired by Japan’s appropriation and subsequent mastery of Scotch whisky-making. It was time for Scotland’s most disruptive drinks brand to repay the compliment by making a Japanese shochu in Aberdeenshire.”

The brand is inspired by the Japanese folk tale of a vengeful wild dog spirit, the Inugami, known for its wrath and mysterious power to possess people. On the label, this supernatural creature is kept in check by four native Scottish birds, symbolising a unique culture clash.

Inugami is a lower ABV spirit, best served in a highball with ice and sparkling water. The clean bite of the shochu reveals flavours of galangal root, ginger and a twist of Scottish rhubarb.

SEEN is compiled by LOVE’s Head of Culture, Kat Towers. Want to say hello, ask questions or challenge her cultural knowledge? Get in touch - kattowers@lovecreative.com