Spirits I wouldn’t drink

In my constant search for interesting/entertaining news about the business of alcohol, I came across a posting titled World’s Weirdest Spirits at The Daily meal. You can find it here.

The list includes a mishmash of strange booze where “logic” caused the creation of a bottled concoction. For example, people love bacon so there is Bakon Vodka; how about smoked salmon flavored vodka? The logic applies to a Yogurt liqueur as well, called Yogurito.

What would a viable spirits brand be without a story, a legend or an “inspiration?” There is Copil Licor de Tuna – no, not fish tasting, that’s the salmon vodka. This one is distilled from cactus pears and has something to do with an Aztec legend about blood and the creation of the cactus. (I couldn’t make that up, folks.)

There is also a spirit called Root that includes botanicals, birch bark, wintergreen and a bunch of other stuff. The story is that the recipe was Native American, passed down to colonial settlers and was served to Pennsylvania coal miners. Might have to take this one seriously – it’s gotten some hype and seems to have a potential following.

Now we come to my two favorites… drumroll please… Products I like to call “purposive” – spirits with a purpose and that help to “make things happen.”

One of them is Mamajuana, apparently also known as Dominican Viagra. It’s made from herbs, sticks, wood, honey, wine, rum and who-knows-what else. All the ingredients are steeped together for a few weeks. Don’t ask me how you drink it but I suspect it comes with tweezers to remove the splinters. But hey, it’s an aphrodisiac.

The other is a product called Kierewiet Liqueur – billed as a digestif, it has a green color, a bold marijuana leaf on the label and is said to be a Cannabis Liqueur. I’m told it’s served in many places in Amsterdam, of course. This was bound to have happened but I would have suggested a bit more subtlety in packaging execution.

Well, there you have it. In an industry where such products as dessert and cake vodkas, spiked chocolate milk, chocolate and cabernet products are on the ascendancy – these may well be the trends of the future.

(I’m kind of hoping the cannabis one makes it – I have a concept and marketing plan already laid out.)

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Start Ups

Ever since Sidney Frank sold Grey Goose in 2005 for billions of dollars, the industry has attracted many entrepreneurs with the dream of inventing a brand, building it, flipping it and moving on to the next one.

It’s a good thing. The growth of the industry, any industry, depends on the infusion of new ideas, capabilities and fresh passion. Look at the rising stars, fast track and hot brands of the industry. You’ll find lots of entrepreneurial and start up brands.

And, as I mentioned in previous posts, success comes from hard work and the tenacity of people not large corporations.

But for every winner there are loads of wannabes whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs. An investment banker friend described it this way —

“Almost every week I get a guy coming in, generally in his 30’s, who made some money in some type of entrepreneurial venture, was out drinking with his buddy and the two of them decide they can do this…build a winner. It’s usually a vodka with an over the top package, a half-baked story and they say they’re out every night pushing the brand. Most of the time I think that they use the brand and their ‘ownership’ to impress the ladies.”

There’s an old rule in new product development. A winning idea needs to be unique and relevant. To succeed, a brand needs both.

Also luck, the byproduct of hard work.

Keep your eye on Cachaca, Sake and specialty products.

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