New Belgium Wild Nectar Hard Juice

  • Category – ready-to-drink, selzter
  • ABV – 5%
  • Location – US (Colorado, North Carolina, Illinois, and Pennsylvania)
  • Price – From $8.99 per four-pack

Kirin-owned New Belgium Brewing is to introduce a three-strong line up of “hard juice” seltzer-style beverages in the US. Wild Nectar Hard Juice will be launched in four markets: Colorado, North Carolina, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, and come in Passionfruit Lime, Strawberry Guava, and Passionfruit Mango Orange variants.  

Just Drinks thinks: It’s been a busy few months for New Belgium Brewing. Hot off the heels of an opinion-splitting rebrand for its flagship Fat Tire ale comes the news the Kirin-owned US brewer is to launch Wild Nectar. Initially available in four states, Wild Nectar is the latest innovation in ‘beyond beer’ from a US craft brewing behemoth, many of which are increasingly following Boston Beer Co.’s path and diversifying their offer.

Indeed, this product launch could well be New Belgium testing the water for a forthcoming hard tea-style beverage from its Voodoo Ranger brand (images from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s COLA database suggest it is a matter of when, not if, this happens). Voodoo Ranger has been on an unstoppable run for New Belgium of late, and the Colorado brewer will doubtless be keen to leverage its brand equity – alongside learnings from this Wild Horse experiment – to grow its presence in ‘beyond beer’.

Having recently struck a deal to acquire Constellation Brands’ production facility in Daleville in Virginia, New Belgium will have the capacity to produce more FMB, seltzer and RTD products, should Wild Nectar and the hard tea from Voodoo Ranger prove a success.

Reliance Consumer Products Campa Cola

  • Category – soft drinks
  • ABV – N/A
  • Location – India
  • Price – Rs10 ($0.12) per 200ml can

Half a century after it was launched, Indian soft drink Campa Cola is back. Having been bought by multinational conglomerate and major local retailer Reliance Industries last summer, Campa Cola is being relaunched in three flavours (Cola, Lemon and Orange) across five pack sizes: 200ml, 500ml, 600ml, one litre, and two litres. The drink will compete with CSD giants including The Coca-Cola-Co. and PepsiCo for a slice of India’s $18bn carbonates market.

Just Drinks thinks: Nostalgia sells – just ask the reams of 80s-themed cafes, dinners, discos and clothing stores and they’ll doubtless tell you there’s nothing more compelling than the desire to relive one’s youth. Reliance Consumer will be hoping to tap into some of that nostalgic pull – as well as Indian consumers’ increasing preference for local brands – to ensure the return of Campa Cola is a successful one. The multinational conglomerate will also look to use its own offline retail and e-commerce stores to boost market penetration and go toe-to-toe with the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

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GlobalData’s team of analysts have certainly been making positive noises about Campa’s potential to disrupt India’s soft drinks market. Consumer analyst Bobby Verghese believes the brand’s competitive price point (almost half that of a similarly sized can of Coca-Cola) could appeal to budget-conscious consumers, particularly in rural markets. GlobalData India’s business development manager Francis Gabriel Godad, meanwhile, has pointed to the brand’s plans to advertise at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, and its parent company’s sponsorship of Mumbai Indians’ IPL team as two possible routes to “amplify Campa’s mass-market awareness in the cricket-loving nation”.

In response, The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo have reportedly instructed local teams to step up trade discounts, consumer promotions and local marketing to maintain their market dominance. A price war in India’s CSD market would be an appealing prospect for cash-strapped consumers but won’t be welcomed by beverage majors on the back of unprecedented input cost increases over the last twelve months.

Remy Cointreau’s Bruichladdich The Regeneration Project

  • Category – whisky, Scotch
  • ABV – 50%
  • Location – UK, France, Germany
  • Price – £125 ($153) per 70cl bottle

Bruichladdich Distillery has unveiled what it claims is the first whisky to be classed as an Islay single-grain Scotch. The Regeneration Project is the third release in the Bruichladdich Project series and is made up of 55% Islay-grown rye and 45% locally-grown Islay malted barley.

Just Drinks thinks: While commonplace in American whiskey production, rye has had extremely limited commercial use in the Scotch category, owing to the fact the grain can be a tricky customer in mashing (especially without the use of enzymes that are prohibited by SWA rules). This has meant rye production on a commercial scale is almost non-existent, despite the fact the cereal is better for soil health, drainage and requires fewer pesticides than traditional barley.

Enter stage right Andrew Jones, a long-standing grower for Remy Cointreau’s Bruichladdich Distillery. Jones, alongside Bruichladdich’s production director Allan Logan, struck a deal that saw the Islay farmer add rye to his rotation with the understanding Bruichladdich would purchase his entire crop to turn into whisky.

The resulting release – The Regeneration Project – is a tantalising glimpse of what could lie ahead in the Scotch industry’s future. This is an experimental and innovative whisky that could be the start of a broader conversation around regenerative agriculture in Scotland. If it proves a success, it could even force the SWA to rethink of one of its more antiquated regulations.

Asahi Europe & International’s Peroni Nastro Azzurro Stile Capri  

  • Category – beer, lager
  • ABV – 4.2%
  • Location – Hungary, Italy, Romania, UK & Ireland
  • Price – £14 ($17.10) per ten x 330ml bottles

Asahi Europe & International is to introduce a lighter and lower abv lager from its Peroni Nastro Azzurro brand. Peroni Nastro Azzurro Stile Capri will be available across both on- and off-premise channels and sits alongside the flagship Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Nastro Azzurro 0.0% and Nastro Azzurro Gluten-Free in the Italian brand’s roster.

Just Drinks thinks: The launch of a new brand from Peroni, less than twelve months after retiring Peroni Libera to launch a 0.0% version of Peroni’s flagship brew, strikes us as a bit of an odd move. While the reasons for the launch given by Asahi Europe & International (demand for lighter, lower strength beers continues to grow, exponentially so in summer) seem solid enough, why risk muddying the equity of an already successful so-called ‘premium’ brand with another new extension?

Asahi says it plans to support the launch with a £3m integrated marketing campaign in the UK, targeting “style-conscious” 18- to 34-year-old consumers. Peroni Nastro Azzurro Stile Capri, however, with its navy-blue-and-white trim, “subtle spritz” of lemon and see-through bottle, draws unfortunate comparisons (in this writer’s head, at least) with Heineken’s now discontinued Foster’s Radler – which doesn’t exactly scream premium. Then, there’s the name, which Asahi assures us is inspired by the island in the bay of Naples, but to the British consumer may evoke instead images of the lurid green 1980 Ford favoured by Only Fools & Horses character Del Boy. Not so ‘lovely jubbly’, then.

Whyte & Mackay Jura Bourbon Cask

  • Category – whisky, Scotch
  • ABV – 40%
  • Location – Global
  • Price – $40 per 70cl bottle

Whyte & Mackay is to replace its entry-level Jury Journey with a Bourbon Cask matured expression. Jura Bourbon Cask will front the Islay single malt distiller’s signature series, which also features a 10, 12 and 18 Year Old, alongside its Sevenwood and Jura 21 Time and Tide expressions.

Just Drinks thinks: Farewell, then, to Jura Journey, the entry-level expression from the Isle of Jura range relaunched in mid-2018. The no-age-statement single malt matured exclusively in American oak barrels has been replaced by… another “no-age-statement single malt matured in white oak ex-Bourbon casks”. Confused? Yeah, us too. We asked Whyte & Mackay for clarity on whether the liquid has actually changed at all, but the Emperador-owned spirits group has so far remained tight-lipped.

Jura’s owner did say, however, that the “evolution” of its flagship expression is designed to better illustrate the whisky’s creation, the use of Bourbon barrels and the impact of the liquid’s ageing in them on its finished flavour profile. The renaming also brings the signature series flagship closer in line with Jura’s existing Jura ‘Cask Editions’ series which includes rum-cask and red-wine cask finished expressions.

Framed in this context, perhaps the rebranding of Jura Journey to better communicate its origins and tap into the growing appreciation of Scotch and the impact different maturation vessels can have on the liquid isn’t so daft after all. Whether whisky die-hards are likely – Waylon Smithers/Malibu Stacey style – to be taken in by the move, seems unlikely.

Campari Group’s Lallier Champagne R.019 Brut Non-Vintage Cuvée

  • Category – wine, Champagne
  • ABV – 12.5%
  • Location – Select markets including the US, France, UK and Italy
  • Price – $39.99 per 75cl bottle

Campari-owned Champagne house Lallier has unveiled the latest iteration in its “Reflexion” expressions. R.019 Brut Non-Vintage Cuvée is produced from 88% grapes harvested in 2019 and aged for 36 months versus the minimum of 15 months required for a Brut non-vintage Champagne,

Just Drinks thinks: Despite the lingering macroeconomic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for Champagne shows little signs of abating, with sales passing the €6bn (US$6.54bn) threshold for the first time according to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne trade body.

This latest iteration of Lallier’s Reflexion series, which has been a staple of the Champagne House’s roster since 2014 (except for in 2017, when the harvest did not meet Lallier’s high standards), is the first to bear the brand’s refreshed look that will shortly roll out across the rest of its portfolio. Lallier has been making lots of yummy noises (as it would) about the liquid itself, which is made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay grapes.

With 2019’s earlier-than-usual bud burst and dry sunny conditions having made the vintage a good one for Champagne producers, this product looks set to be another sought-after addition to the popular Reflexion series.