DB awards 2017: profiling the winners

Drinks Event of the Year

Winner (trade):
Wine Australia for The Artisans of Australian Wine

Swapping the typical tasting venues for a nightclub in Shoreditch, it was clear from the offset that Wine Australia had wanted to offer the trade something a bit different with its most recent tasting. The Artisans of Australian Wine event, held in September 2016, was the first UK trade tasting to focus solely on new-wave artisanal Australian winemakers, setting out to highlight what the country’s “young guns” are up, with 23 of Australia’s most exciting and innovative winemakers making the journey to London to present their wines. The tasting itself showcased just 120 wines from 43 artisanal wineries, showcasing cool climates, distinct terroirs, alternative varieties and natural and minimalist winemaking. The event succeeded in attracting a “new hipster crowd” to the Australian wine category, showcasing its wines to a brand new audience, with the age of attendants typically lower than it usual events. For the first time, Australia deliberately presented itself as being a modern, relevant category for the trade and a country that offers exciting craft wines. Judges praised the team for going out of its way to give the event an “edgy” feel, which appealed to the trade and also the “cool kids”, offering new wineries an effective platform into the market.

Runner-up (trade):
Matthew Clark for The Drinks Emporium

Matthew Clark has been running The Drinks Emporium tasting at Tobacco Dock in London for the past four years. However this year marked a “step change” for the event, which was put on in the style of a vibrant Victorian carnival. The team felt this theme would reflect the energy, enthusiasm and passion it has for the industry. For the first time, the event saw craft beer and premium spirits added to the showcase, which was set over an eclectic collection of spaces, including The Great Gardens, Daredevils, Curiosities, Helter Skelter Cocktails and The Alchemist. The wine section was laid out by country with the exception of The Big Top, which highlighted our more high volume, and high margin making wines. In addition to this, there was also a dedicated ‘Sommelier & Press’ room, which showcased its top picks and award winners. The event resulted in a 73% uplift in customer attendance (from 2016), with guest numbers totaling 1,352 – its biggest ever event – with 42% of prospects to this event converted into customers.

Winner (consumer):
CUBE Communications for Finest Wine Bar (Tesco)

The winner of this year’s consumer drinks event was the Finest Wine Bar, a concept envisioned and executed by Cube to draw attention to Tesco’s finest* range of wines and prompt reconsideration of the brand among not only consumers, but also press and influencers across trade, specialist and lifestyle media. Held in London’s Soho, the pop-up bar offered guests 48 of the supermarket’s finest* wines with the aim of disrupting existing perceptions, forging a new relationship with a key demographic and enabling the finest* brand to “live and breathe” outside of the store. This approach marked a break from convention for the retailer, and allowed the team to “surprise and delight with more creative freedom”. Wines were presented standard 125ml and 175ml glasses, plus discovery wine flights to encourage consumers to explore different wine styles. Wine experts from Tesco were on hand throughout, with masterclasses also hosted twice a day by experts in a dedicated tasting room, allowing up to 20 people to experience a more in-depth tasting experience of four wines following a theme. The event attracted 2,893 visitors, 43% more than its target, with the stunt also resulting in more than 50 articles that were estimated to have reached 2.5 million consumers. The event was praised by judges for being “original, brave and beautifully executed”, and markedly different from other Tesco events.

Runner-up (consumer):
Waitrose for The Waitrose Drinks Festival

The first Waitrose Drinks Festival took place in September 2016, and was the culmination of six months of work. The event was held at the IET on the Embankment spread across five floors and attracted 2,000 customers who were able to sample a vast array of wines, beers, spirits and ciders from more than 100 suppliers represented by Waitrose under one roof. In its bid to ‘not be like any other wine fair”, trestle tables, pop-up banners and tablecloths were banned, with its aim to create an informal yet engaging festival of food and drink. The event also featured a Cookery School demonstration room, wine, beer and spirits masterclasses, and a “craft your own gin” room run by Audemus Spirits. This culminated in one gin being tasted and selected to be produced and sold on Waitrose Cellar.  The winning gin “L’esprit d’été” will be launched this summer. The event even turned a profit, via a combination of ticket sales and supplier fees.

Commended (consumer):
The Whisky Exchange for The Whisky Show: Old & Rare, Glasgow

A special commendation goes to The Whisky Exchange for its Old & Rare Whisky Show, which builds upon its already established Whisky Show held each year in London. The first ever Whisky Show: Old & Rare took place in Glasgow over two days in February, showcasing more than 400 old and rare whiskies, including an Orkney distilled in 1894 and one of the oldest whiskies ever released – a Glenlivet Generations 1940 70-year-old. Tickets to the show were deliberately capped at 300 per day to ensure a “spacious and relaxed” space to taste, attracting 600 visitors over the two days.

Clarion Communications for The Aldi Wine Store

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