Think of summer drinks
and leaf-filled, fruit-adorned cocktails must come somewhere near the top of your list. But
summer is not the season for spirits. Nielsen figures over the past three years show
an average 22.5% of spirits are sold in summer - lower than the quarter share they should have in theory.
The only spirits category with a notable slant to summer sales is liqueurs and specialities, driven by Pimm's No 1 which makes 71% of its annual sales in summer. A fraction over a quarter of tequila and mezcal sales are in summer, but
all other categories sell less than the 25% average in the summer months.
"If people don't stock a good range of liqueurs and summer spirits
they will definitely see reduced sales in the summer ," says Ruth Yates, of independent wine and spirits merchant Corks Out. " People tend to think of spirits as Cognac and malt whiskies, which
they drink more in the winter months ."
Yates recommends liqueurs such as cherry, passion fruit or elderflower, which can be used in summer cocktails or mixed with sparkling wine for a kir royale.
"We are the complete opposite to the trend," says David Urquhart, director of malt whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail, which
won the OLN Drinks Retailing Award for independent spirits retailer of the year 2008.
"Almost 60% of malt whisky is sold in the last three months of the year in England, but in Scotland it is the other way around because of all the tourist trade." The business also sells a lot of bottles as gifts, particularly around Father's Day, which falls on June 15 this year.
"The answer to boosting spirits sales in summer is
to find your
unique selling point
and hav e the information and knowledge to support it ," Urquhart adds.
Lucy Mitchell, owner of online retailer Drinkon,
sells more spirits at Christmas
and because people like to drink "cosier" spirits such as Armagnac and whisky in the colder months.
"We tend to sell more gins and rums in the summer , which
has to do with summer cocktails, and we
sell lots of things like Pimm's and fruit liqueurs," she says.
"You have to promote the idea of summer drinking and outside entertaining, come up with interesting cocktail ideas and promote products together . Just try to give people interesting new ways of drinking products."
Only 18.5% of Cognac is sold in the summer, so promotional body BNIC has pulled together 20 mixologists from leading bars around the world
to create the summit - a stirred cocktail of Cognac, lemonade,
lime zest, ice and
cucumber peel to garnish. The summit is designed to
appeal to men and women.
Cognac-based Alizé is also targeting summer drinkers this year by sponsoring a national music tour, Alizé Remixed .
Teacher's whisky is giving away a trailer and 250 mountain bikes in an on-pack promotion . Beam Global UK category marketing manager Aileen Nicol said: "Consumers often choose lighter drinks during the summer
al fresco over lunch or for long evenings and
barbecues. It is especially important
for retailers to communicate the mixability of spirits. Simple mixed drinks
are perfect for the off-trade as they are quick and easy to make at home. By displaying the products together, along with a
visible recipe suggestion or citrus fruit which could be served as a garnish, retailers will encourage customers to consider this option."
Grand Marnier has developed the Grand Esprit cocktail, which blends the orange liqueur with elderflower cordial and soda water, and will be promoting the drink this summer.
Cockspur Rum will be targeting cricket fans after signing up as the official spirit of the test match grounds for the next three years.
How do spirits
sell in summer?
Category Summer share
Liqueurs & specialities
Tequila & mezcal 25.6
Canadian whiskey 24
White rum 23.8
Blended Scotch whisky 22.7
Non-French brandy 22.4
Golden rum 22.4
Dark rum 21.2
Malt Scotch whisky 20.6
American whiskey 19.7
Irish whiskey 19.5
Non-cream liqueurs 17.5
Cream liqueurs 11.5
Source: Nielsen average of three summers
Top-selling summer spirits
Brand Category % summer sales
1 Pimm's No 1 Liqueurs & specialities 71
2 Selekt Vodka 46.9
3 Horseman Scotch whisky 40.9
4 Kirov Vodka 39.1
5 Royal Czar Vodka 31.7
6 Glen Ranoch Scotch whisky 30.6
7 Campari Liqueurs & specialities 29.8
8 Expedition Rum 29.4
9 Northern Scot Scotch whisky 28.5
10 Crawfords Scotch whisky 28
11 Tia Maria Liqueurs & specialities 27.8
12 Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila & mezcal 27.8
13 Royal Game Scotch whisky 27.8
14 Strathross Scotch whisky 27.5
15 Jules Clairon Brandy 27.3
16 Pavlov Vodka 27.3
17 Richmond London Gin Gin 27.3
18 Glen Logie Scotch whisky 27
19 Tolstoy Vodka 26.9
20 Napoleon Brandy 26.6
Methodology: Nielsen took the three-month summer sales figures of leading spirits brands over the past three years and calculated them as a percentage of the brands' total sales over that three-year period. Any brand with a summer share over 25% shows a bias towards summer sales.