Macadamias help craft spirits ride a tidal wave of success

20 Nov 2019

From Australia, the US and Europe to China, India and Indonesia, craft spirits are firmly on trend.

Driven by rising consumer curiosity in the story behind the beverage - ingredient origin, environmental impact and sustainability - increasing economic independence of millennials and a desire to support independent producers, the global craft spirits market is valued at more than USD 600 billion and is forecast to experience CAGR of more than 33% between 2017 and 2025.

Bartender serving cocktailIt’s a fascinating space, full of hip and innovative brands that are capturing consumer attention at a pace that has traditional global brands struggling to keep up. Artisanal production methods, ingredients and flavours are king and it’s exciting to see macadamias playing a part in the mix both locally and further afield.

Outpacing beer, wine and mainstream spirits

North America represents the largest slice of the craft spirits pie. Between 2010 and 2017, CAGR for the volume of craft spirits in the US was almost 26%, dwarfing that of overall spirits that came in at just 2.8% over the same period. Far from having peaked, the US craft spirits market is set to tip more than $20 billion in revenue by 2023, with CAGR from 2018 -2023 expected to exceed 32%. The powerful influence of North American products is expected to drive growth of the craft spirits category in Central and South America as well.

Australian drinkers appear to be more conscious than ever, with many opting to consume less, but better quality alcohol – a trend also observed in Europe. In Australia, there is strong interest in health, wellbeing and supporting independent producers, such as micro-breweries and craft distilleries. While beer and wine growth is largely flat, Australian craft spirits are growing at 110%, with growth of the overall spirits market falling well short of this at 4.7%.

Women drinking cocktailsAsia Pacific is tipped to offer huge potential for craft spirit producers, thanks to improved purchasing parity and the burgeoning millennial populations in a host of emerging markets including China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Although now economically independent, a significant number of millennials in many of these countries are opting to live with their parents, affording more disposable income for leisure-related purchases such as eating and drinking out of home.

Australian macadamias boost French rum brand’s success

When Cédric Brement, founder of French craft rum brand Les Rhums De Ced, was looking for new product inspiration a few years back, his thoughts turned to one of his favourite indulgences.

“Cédric is a big fan of macadamia ice cream, and he wanted to create his own version for the rum category,’ explained Les Rhums De Ced Head of Marketing Arnaud Bonnet.

The result was TI ARRANGES DE CED Vanilla Macadamia - a gourmet, dessert-like rum made using macadamia nuts sourced from Australia, vanilla pods from Madagascar, white Agricole rum from Martinique Island and sugar cane syrup. The unique formulation is matured for six months in oak Cognac barrels, producing what Arnaud describes as an ‘amazingly gourmet’ result.

Vanille MacadamiaOriginally launched as a limited edition release for Christmas in 2013, the product proved so successful, it became a permanent addition to the range, and is still going strong six years later. Produced in the company’s craft workshop near French Brittany, TI ARRANGES DE CED Vanilla Macadamia is available in Europe and Taiwan.

The Les Rhums De Ced team prides itself on its all-natural formulations, featuring fresh seasonal fruits, nuts and spices along with premium Agricole rum from the French West Indies, and sugar cane syrup. According to Arnaud, innovation is at the heart of their business.

“What Cédric creates is like a gourmet cooking experience in the rum category,” he said. “Our aim is to bring a new level of originality to rum liqueur. We want to take consumers on a journey through our uniquely gourmet craft rum flavours.”

The team spends a lot of time creating innovative flavour combinations, experimenting with new blends of fresh seasonal produce and different maturation methods.

Les Rhums De Ced range“We mature our rums in different aged barrels – Cognac, Sauternes, Sherry, Whisky and Pineau. We even matured rum bottles in a salt marsh for two months to create a whole new aromatic sensation!”

Arnaud says consumers are intrigued not only by the flavour of TI ARRANGES DE CED Vanilla Macadamia, but also by the presence of whole macadamia kernels in the bottle. “People don’t initially recognise the nuts when they see the bottle. It’s a very unique looking product, and it makes people want to try it,” he says.

The rich mouthfeel of the macadamia is reflected in the rum, and Arnaud says this, along with the premium perception of macadamias make it a true gourmet sensation with broad appeal.

“Anyone who likes dessert will love TI ARRANGES DE CED Vanilla Macadamia”, says Arnaud.

Shaking things up with macadamias: Brookie’s goes from strength to strength

When Eddie Brook and his team at Cape Byron Distillery launched Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin back in 2016, the gin renaissance was in its infancy. Three years on, Brookie’s has well and truly made its mark on the Australian craft spirits scene with its original dry gin, a ‘slow’ gin, and a macadamia liqueur.

Eddie is the son of Pam and Martin Brook - Australian macadamia growers and the founders of macadamia food brand Brookfarm. The Cape Byron Distillery is located in the heart of the family’s macadamia and rainforest orchard, with macadamias being integral to the products the distillery produces.

“When macadamias are distilled, they bring a beautiful oily, almost buttery mouth feel and texture and provide a shortbread characteristic to our dry gin,” explains Eddie. “I often refer to the macadamia playing the part of the binder or mediator, balancing out a lot of flavours in our gin.”

Containing 25 botanicals, 17 of which are native to the Northern Rivers macadamia growing region, their signature dry gin has gone on to win numerous awards, and also forms the base of Brookie’s Slow Gin. Showcasing the Davidson Plum, a native rainforest fruit, Brookie’s Slow Gin is said to deliver “exhilarating flavours of rose, watermelon, and bright plum.”

Last year the team expanded the Brookie’s range beyond gin, with the launch of an exciting new product called Mac. By Brookie’s - a roasted macadamia and wattleseed liqueur.

Mac. By Brookie's“Mac. captures the pure flavour of macadamia,” says Eddie. “When I was creating it, I drew on nostalgic flavour memories of the smell of roasted macadamia nuts coming from the family oven when Mum was baking Brookfarm macadamia products. We heavily roast and combine macadamias, wattleseed and roasted macadamia nut shells and combine with a spirit. It takes around three months to make and the flavour is simply irresistible.”

Eddie says the feedback on Mac. has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Bartenders around Australia are loving being able to incorporate our beloved macadamia but in various cocktails, and we are now also exporting to the UK.”

We look forward to seeing where the Brookie’s brand goes next.

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