JanFeb 2018 Stateways

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | January/February 2018 22 sumers (and especially bartenders and retailers) are waking up to the differences in vodka." Sobieski Vodka focuses on its 100% pure Dankowski rye vodka, which offers a better structure and richer fl avor than other grain vodkas, he says. "And Sobieski gets a lift from the current interest in rye whiskey." "One of the main driving forces in the industry is that consumers are paying more attention than ever to where ingredients come from. Consumers will continue to demand transparency regard- ing whether a product's ingredients are entirely natural," says Tom Spaven, brand director for Grey Goose Vodka. The brand touts the use of soft winter wheat from the Picardy region of France and pure spring water from its well in Gensac-la-Pallue, along with a single distil- lation process overseen by Cellar Master Fran- cois Thibault. "More than ever consumers want transpar- ency from brands on what goes into the product," Rozario says. "Which is more important than whether a vodka is imported or not." For Abso- lut, that message starts with production. All the ingredients are sourced within a 75-mile radius of Åhus, Sweden. The distillery is also carbon-neu- tral, and Absolut contains no added sugar or ar- tifi cial fl avors. Ketel One also cites sustainability as a defi ning characteristic, Tomlin says, as well as using 100% non-GMO grain. The brand celebrates its heritage — the Nolet family has been crafting fi ne spirits at its home distillery in Schiedam, Holland since 1691. REPACKS PACK A PUNCH While creating new vodka expressions and fl avors take research and time, re-packaging is a relatively easy way to grab consumer attention anew. That's especially true of bottle wraps and sleeves, which can be easily redesigned and slipped over the original bot- tles to fi t the occasion. Absolut Sequins, for example, brightened the holidays with a fun wrap that changes its look with the swipe of a fi nger. The brand plans similar limited wrap releases. In summer 2018, Sobieski will introduce an update of its packaging, to hit shelves in the U.S. around Memorial Day. The new look will have a more modern feel and call out the 100% rye more forcefully, while still honoring the brand's heritage of Polish King Jan III Sobieski. Grey Goose will continue to leverage its iconic wine-bottle shape through limited-edition sea- sonal packs, Spaven says. Sporting a fresh new look timed to the 20th anniversary of the brand, the Grey Goose Limited-Edition Riviera Bottle celebrates the brand's French heritage. The de- sign features classic marinière stripes and was defi ned by visible brush strokes reminiscent of France's Impressionist Art Movement. LOOKING AHEAD Despite the challenges, the major players in the imported vodka category remain upbeat about the future. "While there are many new players and trends in the spirits world, we've found vodka drinkers to be extremely loyal and steadfast in their support of the overall category," says Tomlin at Diageo. "Vodka remains a highly com- petitive category with continuous innovation, and hundreds of new vodka brands emerging in just the last few years." • THOMAS HENRY STRENK is a Brooklyn-based free- lance writer with over 20 years experience covering the beverage and restaurant industries. In his small apartment-turned-alchemist-den, he homebrews beer kom- bucha, and concocts his own bitters and infusions. IMPORTED VODKA | CATEGORY UPDATE

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