Instil Drinks Co to triple spirits range

Instil Drinks Co, the beer and spirits arm of Bibendum PLB is set triple its portfolio of craft and world spirits.

Instil“There is big scope in the UK, but we need to augment the range,” Instil Drinks’ MD Mark Johnson told the drinks business adding that it was looking at “eclectic” vodkas, craft rum and the “exciting” UK gin market.

“We want to get a good quality range of craft spirits to work alongside our beer portfolio and are actively speaking to over a dozen suppliers,” he said. “Currently we have ten brands, but it needs to be trebled at least. At the start of next years we expect to have around 20-30 lead craft and world spirits brands – some will be recognisable and some are very craft, but that helps keep the portfolio broad.”

The idea is to provide a one-stop shop for its customers, and to boost sales through the premium off-trade, Johnson said – currently Instil’s spirits are currently sold “almost exclusively” into the on-trade.

In August, Instil added two new liqueurs, Quenza, which is owned by Spanish company Hijos de Rivera, parent of Instil’s flagship beer brand Estrella Galicia and French triple-sec and fruit liqueur brand, Combier. It has also just signed up craft cognac brand Bache-Gabrielsen, Norway’s leading cognac brand, which he says marks a departure from the, big, smooth traditional brandy style.

“What is exciting is that it is has gone down the single barrel, Bourbon whiskey route – pure and rustic,” he said.

Boost to beer portfolio

Instil is also boosting the focus on its world beers, led by Estrella Galicia, which has seen sales more than double in the last year through both the on- and off-trade. Yesterday it held a ‘Taste of Spain’ event in London to showcase a range of products from the brand to a mixture of on- and off-trade customers.

“The UK is one of the key markets and Estrella Galicia sits in the premium end of the segment,” Robert Hilton, Estrella Galicia Country Manager for the UK and Ireland told the drinks business. It had, he said, seen rapid growth since launching in the UK with Instil three years ago, and was now on draught in 300 bars across the UK and had a growing on-trade presence though high end tapas bars and Spanish restaurants.

Having built its reputation organically in the off-trade, the Spanish brand is turning its attention to building on-trade sales. It is currently stocked in Marks & Spencer, but the brand is targeting additional high-end retailers such as Majestic and Booths as well as the convenience sector, which is particularly suitable for the 4-pack format.

“We avoided the multiples but now the intension is to get it into the premium off-trade,” Johnson said. “It is easy to say there is less margin in the off-trade so let’s sell more in the on-trade, but a key pillar of the business is to provide a consolidation service for beer in the supermarkets.”

“We are building a world craft beer range, but we need the flagship Estrella Galicia to help get into the door, and after that need relevance with a good world beer range.”

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