Space for the niche segment Distilled specialities and forgotten classics | Peter Eichhorn
Space for the niche segment - Distilled specialities and forgotten classics
"I don't know what reception I'm at, but for God's sake, give me a gin and tonic!" A timeless quote attributed to Denis Thatcher, the husband of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And indeed, a glance into bars and restaurants' refrigerators and back bars proves what a trend factor gin & tonic still has. ProWein, the world's largest and most important trade fair for wines and spirits, offers a first-class overview of the latest trends from 15 to 17 March 2020 in Düsseldorf.
Gin is on everyone's lips, Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey prove what growth potential the venerable distillates from the British Isles currently have. In addition, rum and vodka have a steady and loyal fan base. But a splendid variety is tucked away just out of the spotlight shining directly on every bar counter's main attractions. Dedicated barkeepers and sommeliers are increasingly also exploring the less well-trodden paths of the art of distillation to surprise their guests with unusual drinks. They may be focusing on further away but are very nearby too.
Aquavit or akvavit: a multi-layered spectrum of flavours
Growing attention is being paid to products that stand for historical traditions. Let's look at Scandinavia, where Nordic cuisine has had a formative influence on the whole world in recent years. Traditional Nordic drinks also have a wealth of aromatic nuances, especially in the form of aquavit, also known as akvavit. "Aqua vitae", the water of life, shows how complexly the flavours of caraway and dill can be brought to the fore in a distillate with hints of aniseed, citrus and vanilla. Be it clear, cask aged or distilled over amber, like the Aalborg Nordguld. Numerous classics and innovations can be found at ProWein 2020 in the Arcus Norway AS range (Hall 7, Stand C25), whose brand variety includes Linie, Gammel, Lysholm or Malteser. Copenhagen Distillery is also represented (Hall 7, Stand C 35) and will be presenting the exciting aquavit with cinnamon and pepper. And Det Norske Brenneri (Hall 7, Stand A07) will be bringing an impressive variety of Nordic specialities.
Tequila & mezcal: 100 percent agave
Familiar and yet very different. That should be the motto when we turn our gaze towards Mexico and take a closer look at the agave distillates there. Unfortunately, too many people still turn down tequila when it is on offer. Juvenile drinking rituals with salt and lemon and the headaches associated with them may have influenced several generations of Central European drinkers. But it's worth a sip. Just the tasty realisation of how important the inscription "100% Agave" on a Tequila bottle is and that it can be considered a real sign of quality. Tradition Mexiko GmbH (Hall 7, Stand C 31) also offers a range of products to explore the degrees of ripeness – from fresh Blanco to complex Reposado and mature Añejo. Tequilas del Senor (Hall 9, Stand G 83) and its range are also represented at ProWein.
Mezcal is also playing an increasingly prominent role in local bars, alongside tequila. Often more originally produced than tequila, smoky and fruity nuances are revealed, which are already selling so well in Great Britain and the USA that extremely exquisite varieties, such as those distilled from Tobala wild agaves, are gradually becoming scarce. In Mexico, for example, an intensive debate is currently developing about the protection and possible cultivation of the (still) wild plants from the mountain ranges of the Oaxaca province.
Back to the roots – but reinterpreted
Back in Europe, numerous traditional distillers are not only showing their long-established skills but also curiosity and the urge for innovation. For example, Lambay Irish whiskey matures in casks from the Camus cognac house (Hall 12, Stand A 60). Ferrand (Hall 7, Stand C 55) shows the harmony that rum and pineapple can create together with Plantation Pineapple. In addition, the Basque Moonshiners (Hall 10, Stand D 58) prove that the Basque country also produces exciting single malt whisky with their Agot. And last but not least, Cambusier (Hall 12, Stand C 38) accentuates with a superb selection of liqueurs that they do not have to be an old-fashioned drink enjoyed by past generations – on the contrary. So: back to the roots and then reinvent everything again!