just-drinks authors and correspondents

Neil Ridley

Neil RidleyBiography

Neil has been writing professionally in the spirits industry for over a decade. His book, Distilled, co-authored by Joel Harrison, is now the biggest selling pan-spirits book globally, translated into 14 languages.

He hosts talks and seminars on the current state of the industry, as well as appearing regularly on Channel 4’s flagship food and drink show, Sunday Brunch, in the UK.

Columns by Neil Ridley

Comment - Spirits (Brown) - Last Orders with Neil RidleyComment - Spirits (Brown) - Last Orders with Neil Ridley

Brown spirits aficionado Neil Ridley casts his eye over the latest goings-on in whisk(e)y, Cognac, dark rum et al.

Articles by Neil Ridley

What does rum need to do to recognise its potential? - Comment 12 November 2019

The much-touted 'demise' of gin is surely music to the rum category's collective ears. However, spirits commentator Neil Ridley argues the spirit must first find its way out of the Wild West and lose its 'sweet-toothed' perception before making a play for the hearts and throats of today's consumers.


The Glenlivet cocktail capsules caused uproar among single malt's puristsWhy single malt Scotch must ignore its core consumer - Comment 17 October 2019

Despite drawing criticism from certain quarters, the single malt Scotch whisky category must continue to strive for greater inspiration and innovation if it is to maintain its current trajectory, argues Neil Ridley.


Pernod Ricard's Emeishan distillery could be the start of a whole new category in malt whiskyPernod Ricard breaks new boundaries with Chinese malt whisky distillery - Comment 12 September 2019

The recent unveiling of Pernod Ricard Asia's plans to produce China's first domestically-sourced single malt whisky is undoubtedly a landmark moment in brown spirits. Category commentator Neil Ridley considers whether Chinese whisky could become a contender to the other 'world whiskies'.


Why rye whisky is set to go global - Comment 15 August 2019

With its distinctly peppery, spicy flavour profile, rye whisky presents a challenge to the average consumer's palate, thinks Neil Ridley, but one that a new breed of whisky consumers appears keen to explore in more detail. So, why is the UK craft distilling scene getting excited for such an innovative, yet relatively extreme, spirit?


Scotch whisky producers are now allowed to use a wider array of cask types in the maturation processWhy the next chapter for Scotch whisky has its challenges - Comment 18 July 2019

The recent rule changes in Scotch maturation introduced by the Scotch Whisky Association go some way to appealing to the creativity of today's forward-thinking distillers. However, is the general public ready for Scotch 2.0 or, for that matter, does the consumer even want it? Neil Ridley delves into the casks to see what's slumbering away.


Whyte & Mackay Light carries an abv of 21.5% abvWhy brown spirits is behind the low- & no-alcohol curve - Comment 11 June 2019

With the booming trend of no-abv white 'spirits', Neil Ridley wonders whether the dark spirits sector will follow suit and who will be the first to really crack the potentially flavoursome formula.


Why the spirits category should look backwards to move forwards - Comment 16 May 2019

Can the recent reinvention of 'classic serves' help revolutionise dark spirits consumption for a younger, savvier audience in the on-premise? Neil Ridley looks to the past for inspiration.


Edrington has invested heavily in The Macallan in recent yearsWhy being careful is not careful enough for spirits marketers - Comment 11 April 2019

As Edrington's The Macallan is forced to withdraw its major advertising campaign in the UK following a handful of complaints, Neil Ridley wonders if the rules surrounding the above-the-line promotion of spirits are turning us into a nation of naysayers and killjoys, or is there a deeper message here for the drinks industry as a whole?


Why the mainstream media is confusing spirits' target consumer - Comment 14 March 2019

When people talk about alcohol, a lot of them get quite excited. Some get over-excited. As for those people that work in the media... Neil Ridley explains.


Diageo is set to reopen its Port Ellen distillery on the Scottish island of IslayHow to win the marketing war in spirits - Comment 15 February 2019

Our brown spirits commentator, Neil Ridley, has had his passion for whisky reignited, thanks to a recent trip to the Scottish island of Islay. He's also concluded that a 'sense of place' is the most important weapon in a spirits' marketer's armoury.




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