Allied Domecq has made a robust move on the UK's burgeoning shot market with the launch of Magma Cinnamon Schnapps Liqueur. The liqueur, with a strong cinnamon flavour and a warming peppery aftertaste, is to be developed in the on premise market, targeted primarily at the 18-30 age bracket.

Allied said test marketing carried out in the North West had proved very successful and will now be looking to establish the brand nationally, with emphasis on trendy bars and clubs.

According to Nielsen data the shot market in the UK grew by 141% last year so Allied's interest is not surprising. Moreover, this sector is hardly over-populated with two other major players, Sidekick and Aftershock, as well as the Goldschlager brand.

"Shots are a big part of a fun night out. Our research has shown a cross-section of people trying and liking Magma," said Grahame Cox, innovation and business development director. "There is an evolving shot market here and it's a good growth area. The shot market in this country is in its infancy. We are aiming to be the number one player in the market."

Cox said he was confident Magma would be successful because of the brand's unique characteristics and the weight of support Allied Domecq UK would be putting behind it. The company has a programme of on trade activities planned and is producing an extensive range of POS materials including tent cards, posters, shot glasses and T-shirts. However, Cox pointed out that in this sector of the market "word of mouth" was critical. "You have to discover the brand," he said. "Word of mouth is really important."

A third factor which Cox believes is heavily in Magma's favour is its alcohol level of 24% abv. The recommended retail price will be around £2, on a par with stronger spirits and Allied will be emphasising the enhanced margin potential to its on trade customers. "Because it derives its challenge from its taste and not from its alcohol level it can offer the barowner a better margin." Cox said. "The only people who lose out is the government."

The lower alcohol level may also have the added benefit of reducing the brand's exposure to criticism regarding responsible consumption issues. Because of associations sometimes made with excessive or irresponsible consumption, the shot market is an area where companies know they have to tread carefully.

"As an industry we have to make sure we are responsible in the activities we do and Allied Domecq is firmly committed to that," Cox told Just-drinks. "As an area of the market the shot drinking sector can be contentious. Our intention is to get in there but we don't want to encourage excessive consumption. Lots of shots get their power from the alcohol. For us, Magma gets its power from the flavour profile and for us that's the big difference. For us, it's about the taste."