4 Emerging Imported Spirits

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The craft spirits movement is hardly contained to America. Countries across the globe now play host to a worldwide market of premium spirits from craft producers. After all, consumer appetite for high quality and interesting stories are tastes that fit into nearly any culture.

With that in mind, here are four emerging imported spirits that reflect the global craft movement.

West Cork Irish Whiskey

Innovation is sweeping through the resurgent Irish whiskey category. For proof, look no further than West Cork. Based in Skibbereen, the brand offers a bevy of creative barrel finishes, including bourbon, sherry, port, rum and double charred #5 casks.

The brand has also recently made waves with its Glengarriff Series: Peat Charred Cask, and Bog Oak Charred Cask. Both aged in sherry before finishing in barrels charred with fuel sources obtained from Southern Ireland’s Glengarriff Forest.

“West Cork is a brand that’s real people, real place and real process,” says Gary Shaw, V.P. Control States at M.S. Walker, which owns the brand. “And Irish whiskey is a taste profile that’s ideal for consumers newer to brown spirits, because it’s a lighter style.

Broken Shed Vodka

Hailing from New Zealand, this craft vodka is made from a blend of two natural water sources, combined with natural protein whey. Unusual for a smaller brand, Broken Shed employs brand ambassadors in all 16 U.S. states where it operates. The suggested retail price is $26.99 per 750-ml. bottle.

“Tito’s has successfully the low end of the vodka market, but nobody has successfully disrupted the premium side of the market,” says Jonathan Bailey, CEO, Broken Shed Distilleries.

The original founders are two American ex-pats who thought up the concept — vodka made from all-natural New Zealand resources — while relaxing in a broken shed on the banks of Lake Wanaka.

Tom of Finland Vodka

This spirit’s name is the pseudonym of the famous 20th-century Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen. If “Tom of Finland”doesn’t ring a bell, Google it and you’ll likely recognize his provocative artwork depicting gay culture from his time period.

Two entrepreneurs saw his image on a postage stamp (he passed away in 1991) and thought they could license the trademark for Finish vodka. Similar with other brands tied into cultural icons and movements, Tom of Finland Vodka donates 5% of profits to its namesake’s foundation. The brand also raises money for the LGBT community, with the mission to promote awareness and education.

“This isn’t just putting a rainbow on a bottle,” explains Umberto Luchini, proprietor of Wolf Spirits Distillery, which is behind the brand. “This is a genuine story in the community. This celebrates a man whose life was incredible.”

Production-wise, this Finish vodka is made of wheat, with 15% rye. Currently it’s in 17 states, with plans for national distribution by the end of this year.

Sierra Norte Mexican Whisky

This brand distills whiskey from Mexican heirloom corn grown in Oaxaca. Available in 24 states and expanding, Sierra Norte offers whiskeys made from black, white and yellow corn. Each tastes different. The brand does not blend the different-colored grains, 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.”

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece 5 Products We Loved at the 2019 NYC USA Trade Tasting.

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