An array of newer, eye-catching alcohol products showcased their liquids (and other formats) in the exhibition halls of the 2019 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America conference. As always these reflected current trends in beverage alcohol while also hinting at what’s coming around the corner.
The conference wrapped up last week in Orlando, and included a keynote by Ice T. Coming off WSWA, we’re still thinking about these 12 unique products from the exhibit halls.
Think of these as adult freezer pops.
Cooloo is 5%-ABV frozen RTD cocktails that come in ice pops, like your favorite childhood summer treat. Flavors include Pina Colada, Cosmo and Paloma. They’re shelf stable while unfrozen, and launched last June.
2) Virginia Distillery Company Courage and Conviction
This fast-growing American single malt producer poured their first all-Virginia whisky during WSWA.
Previous products (which have all been fantastic) were a mix of Virginia whisky with imported Scotch. Bottled at 92 proof, their new Courage and Conviction release is a single malt entirely of their own making. It’s a blend of whiskies aged in sherry, cuvée and bourbon casks.
While Courage and Conviction is slated for a full launch in April 2020, a limited supply of preview bottles will be available at the end of this year.
3) Mystic Hemp-Flavored Vodka
Several booths at WSWA reflected the cannabis movement, including this hemp-flavored product.
Pick up a bottle and you’ll notice that the liquid inside is not your typical clear vodka. Rather, brand founder Ken Teknus left in hemp oils for flavor. This also means that you should shake Mystic to homogenize the vodka before serving.
After an initial vanilla nose, Mystic has hazelnut flavors with a slight burn on the back end. The spirit launched in Florida in 2018, and does not contain THC or CBD. The suggested retail price is $24.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
“Cannabis is where the market is heading right now,” Teknus says. “It is giving us an avenue to pursue to get brand recognition.”
4) Better Wine Co.
Two other trends at WSWA were canned and low-cal alcohol products. Better Wine’s line of canned spritzers represents both. Each all-natural, 5.9%-ABV drink contains 90 carbs, and no sugar.
Launched in February, the cans have already made their way into 80 Whole Foods in Virginia, Oregon and Washington D.C. “Whole Foods sees this as the sort of product that customers are looking for,” says brand founder Drew Baker. “They’re fun and made right, and have better ingredients for a better taste.”
5) Newvana Boxed Cocktails
Two other trends that were noticeable at WSWA 2019 were boxed drinks and RTDs. Newvana is a brand of boxed RTDs that is shelf stable for one year, and can last in a refrigerator for two weeks after opening.
Launched in June, these all-natural drinks need only ice to become an instant cocktail. This is yet another product that reflects the growing number of on-the-go consumers.
6) Sierra Norte Mexican Whisky
We’ve covered this brand in the past because they’re making incredible whiskey with Mexican heirloom corn. Available in 24 states, Sierra Norte offers whiskeys from all the different colors of their corn, and each taste different. The brand does not blend the different corns and processes them separately.
Master distiller Douglas French says his whiskeys have become popular with Millennials because “they’re the most adventuresome generation, and also want to know where their drinks come from.”
7) Vampire Vineyards
Wine nowadays is all about shelf-level branding — and here’s a label that is hard to overlook.
The brand dates back to the ‘80s, when it was first made from grapes grown in — where else? — Transylvania. Now it’s produced from California grapes for a suggested retail price of between $11.99-$15.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
Vampire Vineyards is available in 40+ states. It’s a testament to the never-dying appeal of vampire culture.
8) Theme Night Wines
On the subject of good wine branding, these clever bottles clearly state the ideal circumstances in which to pop their corks. Reasons include Pizza Night, Ladies Night, Our Night and Game Night. The suggested retail price is between $9-$12 per 750-ml. bottle. The brand counts ten “night”-themed wines, and is available in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California.
9) Gray Whale Gin
One of the better-looking spirits bottles was this powder-blue gin. The spirit also has quite the production backstory, collecting its botanicals — including sea kelp and California almonds — along the coastal California migration path of a Pacific gray whale.
The gin takes quite good, and retails for between $40-$45 per 750-ml. bottle. Profits help support Oceana, a nonprofit ocean conservation and advocacy organization, as well as other eco-centric organizations that benefit the planet.
Gray Whale Gin is currently in California, Kentucky and Connecticut.
This low-ABV wine is meant as a pairing with cannabis. While it does not contain THC or CBD, CannaVinus has a fizzy mouthfeel to combat the cottonmouth of smoking pot, plus elderberry and mint flavors meant to compliment the taste of marijuana.
It’s only 6% ABV. This helps avoid the dangers of over-intoxication that can accompany dual consumption. CannaVinus is $12.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
11) Jugando Spirits
Nobody will forget to bring the drinking games with this product. Jugando is a line of spirits — whiskey, tequila, vodka and rum — that come in a box with one of 12 games meant for parties.
One catch: buyers do not know what game will be in their box. “It’s like a Happy Meal for adults,” explains Oliver Pohl, international sales. “We’re selling experiences.”
The boxes include party classics like beer pong and a plastic Jenga variant. Each game is also linked to an app that users can download to add an additional layer of Truth or Dare onto the games.
Jugando is $39.99 per box and is available in California.
This Indonesian rum brand ages in teak wood before finishing in bourbon casks. The result is a remarkably smooth and balanced flavor that any rum connoisseur should check out — especially for it’s approachable SRP of under $30.
Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece Interview: Woodford Reserve’s Chris Morris and Elizabeth McCall on Wheat Whiskey, Mint Juleps and More.