Why craft brands are gaining traction

I’ve always maintained that the cards are stacked against craft spirits brands wanting to build a meaningful travel retail presence.

The wine state of the US nation

Here is, as usual, a feast of arresting facts and figures in Silicon Valley Bank’s annual study of the US wine market.

Championing the unsung wine heroes

The wine trade can be divided into two fundamentally opposed camps. on one side, you have the romantic idealists who believe that wine is – or can be – something special, bordering on mystical: an elixir like no other, comparable to the greatest works of art.

Chalk it up to experience

Don’t know about you, but I can’t help feeling that the year has not started well.

Will the year of the pig bring in the bacon?

At this time of year my inbox invariably gets flooded with press releases from wine and spirit producers trumpeting their latest Chinese new year special-edition gift boxes and travel retail exclusives.

All change at Diageo Global Travel

There is a new man at the helm of Diageo Global Travel, the largest drinks supplier to the duty free industry.

A wish list for change in 2019

This is the time of year to resolve to do something about our bad habits.

The crazy world of the small distiller

One of the main attractions of social media is that it allows individuals and small businesses a platform from which they can shout loudly, without the need for the big-buck budgets that the global companies can call on.

The final straw for hospitality

Recently someone described me as a ‘lefty communist’, which is a bit weird really. What, as opposed to a ‘righty communist’?

What lies ahead for duty free in 2019?

Now that my christmas decorations have been packed away for another year, it’s time to dust off my crystal ball and try to predict what 2019 has in store for the travel retail liquor business.

The harsh reality of sommeliers

What does the sommelier stand for today?

It’s time to ditch style over substance

If you could consign something to history, what would it be?

Securing french wines’ future?

When people make predictions about the next big grape variety, what they’re usually trying to anticipate is the next big switch in consumer taste.

The new rock ’n’ roll

I am writing this on my birthday, and being an (increasingly) old heavy rock fan, I’ve got british rock station planet rock on at full volume.

The future's orange

The cult 1980s British film withnail & I has many quotable lines.

Urban distilling could be the future

Over the past 12 months I have had the pleasure of spending a considerable amount of time in three of my favourite cities – Glasgow, Dublin, and Louisville.

Getting those Geneva blues

In the middle of a europe-wide heatwave Geneva airport is not the place to kill a couple of hours before catching a flight home.

Rum's time to shine

Who would have thought it? After decades of dabbling on the margins of the fashionable bar trade, rum is enjoying its most successful spell in the limelight since the early ’90s, when spiced rums swept all before them.

Can high whisky prices be justified?

Here we go again. when japanese specialist retailer dekanta released a special bottle of Japanese whisky to mark its third birthday in June, the twittersphere predictably rose up in anger and indignation.

From the crystal ball

Few days before writing this article, i came across an old piece by Robert Parker, written in 2004, in which he made 12 bold assertions about how wine would look by 2015.

How far we have come

About 15 years ago, while I was the editor of Whisky Magazine, we teamed up with cutting-edge bartender Nick sSrangeway to hold a whisky cocktail competition, encouraging the use of Scottish single malt whisky.

The high price of luxury liquor

Dubai airport-based retailer Le Clos’ partnership with the macallan has to be one of the most successful operator-supplier relationships in the history of duty free liquor.

The mystery of generic campaigns

How do you market a region? it’s hard enough getting a message right if you’re a one-man band or family firm processing a single or handful of opinions.

Giving liquor a bad name

A while ago i was walking through Glasgow Airport when I saw a bottle of single malt on offer.

Pride and protection

Protectionism. It's a word that has been beyond the pale in the mainstream discussion of politics and economics of the past 30 years.

Not all spirits are created equal

Twenty five years ago, when I was the features editor at The Publican newspaper, I went with an actor friend to see how pub licensees responded to complaints from customers.

Why duty free must do better

It’s one of the worst PR disasters to have hit the duty free industry in the almost two decades i’ve been covering the business.

What it takes to be admirable

Voting in this magazine’s redoubtable annual awards for the world’s most admired wine brands has forced me, as it does every year, to think about the subject of wine brands properly for a change.

Whisky goes off-piste

If you want proof that alpine whisky is set for its place in the sun, then you need look no further than the 2018 alpine whisky competition held in February.

Vineyard vs winemaking

What is the most important component of a wine brand? What makes it what it is, or, put another way, what can it not do without?

A mixed bag looking ahead

There is a refreshing sense of optimism surrounding the travel retail business which I haven’t seen for quite a few years.

Balancing act of alcohol pricing

And so it came to pass. After years of legal wrangling led by the Scotch Whisky Association and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins, among others, the UK Supreme Court has had its final say, allowing the Scottish government to go ahead with its policy of setting a minimum price for alcohol.

Glimpsing the future at Gatwick

London Gatwick may not be the most exotic travel retail location for a brit such as myself.

Sky-high rents cost duty free dear

One of the biggest bugbears for any liquor brand wanting to build a presence in duty free is the high cost of entry.

A true taste of climate change

Sensitivity to weather and climate is the very core of wine’s appeal.

It’s whisky week

Last week, Distell announced that its Bain's Cape Mountain single grain whisky (40% abv), has gone global. So now we have a whisky form South Africa to join the slew of whisky alternatives to good old scotch.

Turning travellers into shoppers

In Cannes last month as I dashed around from stand to stand and from interview to interview amid a whirl of product launches and cocktail parties, I heard one question asked over and over again.

Jeremy Clarkson lambasts wine lovers

Anybody read Jeremy Clarkson in Sunday's Sunday Times (Oct 29)? I know he is right of Genghis Khan and has a tendency to thump people who don't organise a plate of steak and chips for him. But I defend his right to be totally politically incorrect, to write what many people think but increasingly daren't say - and, by the way, he can write and can be extremely funny, sometimes.

Choose your wine flight

I once had a colleague who said he chose to fly long-haul flights with United Airlines Because at the time –

We need to get serious on airport drinking

The thorny issue of airport drinking has once again hit the UK headlines at a particularly bad time for travel retail.

Modern wine packaging’s in the bag

Most studies suggest they're considerably better for the environment. They’re more convenient, too, if you want to keep your wine fresh for more than a couple of days.

Mine’s a passion fruit martini’

"I’ll have a couple of passion fruit Martinis, love. Actually, make that four."

Clooney tunes

Have you heard the one about George Clooney’s four-year-old tequila brand selling to Diageo to the tune of $1bn?

What the ‘f’ is wrong with being polite?

Couple of months back Sam Smith’s Brewery in Yorkshire, England, issued an instruction to its 200 or so pub managers to refuse to serve customers who swore in their pubs.

How gin made the headlines

When I first arrived here I was the whisky man who was making gin as a sideline,” says Daniel Szor, founder and owner of the Cotswolds Distillery, which lies close to Banbury in the no-man’s land between the west, the south and the middle of England.

China aims for a slice of duty free pie

For the best part of two decades the western duty free business has looked east, pandering to the whims of the emerging mainland Chinese traveller.

Making the most of the winery experience

Tourism is an increasingly important part of the wine business.

Seizing the Brexit opportunity

A year ago I tentatively suggested the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership might have enormous ramifications for the European travel retail business.

Chalking up success

I’ve always been amused by old pubs, bars and restaurants which have the words ‘fine ale, wine and spirits’ or similar painted on their wall or written across their window.

The end of craft?

If you want to know where the spirits industry is headed, you could do worse than look at beer.