The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2011

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READY-TO-DRINK they contain spirits,” says Bruce Herman, President of the U.S. Division of Independent Distillers, one of the world’s largest makers of RTD products. The Australian-based company was quick to see opportunity for its portfolio of innovative single-serving beverages that are the best-selling “readies” in Australia and New Zealand. Gender Branding With a combination of edgy, gender- skewed brands, quality spirits and cream liqueurs, Independent Distillers’ products are unique to the domestic RTD category. Top sellers include the 200-ml. cans (slightly smaller than energy drinks) based on bourbon, tequila, rum and vodka. At SRP $8.99 a four-pack, Bourbon-and-cola Woodstock comes in four- packs of handy 200-ml. cans. Woodstock combines Heaven Hill bourbon and cola, while Devil’s Triangle does the same with Fijian rum and cola for balanced and authentic single-serving cocktails. Lime and guarana, an herbal stimulant similar to caffeine, enhance the tequila- and vodka-based Crazy Mexican, and vodka- based KGB Black is reminiscent of an energy drink in flavor. Initially designed to hold appeal for the guys, these RTDs are benefitting from the retro cocktail craze as the tasty flavors find fans among female consumers as well. “We’ve put ‘yum factor’ into authenti- cally-branded, spirits-based products,” says Herman, whose industry credentials include prior stints as Vice President of Sales for Foster’s Wine Estates Americas 0 / the tasting panel / may 201 1 Twist-On Convenience Herman points out that the RTD category is wide open for products that deliver taste and convenience. “Consumers have turned away from malt-flavored products and the category as a whole has been slow to inno- vate.” Innovative packaging and downright irreverent branding are what make the company’s Twisted Shotz (SRP $5.99/four- pack) highly visible impulse buys. Six provocative flavors combine flavored vodka and cream liqueurs in foil-topped plastic shot glasses that use a swirled divider to keep ingredients separate. The Shotz flavors then “mix” right in the mouth. Tequila-based Rattlesnake combines lime liqueur with the spicy bite of tequila, and Buttery Nipple is the vodka-and-cream-based liquid version of butterscotch candy. “Twisted Shotz perform well as off-premise impulse buys and are convenient for occasion-based, on-premise service,” notes Herman. That’s the Spirit “T “READIES” FROM DOWN UNDER ARE ON TARGET story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong he U.S. ready-to-drink [RTD] market is dominated by malt-based bever- ages with brand names that suggest and Schieffelin & Somerset. The company, which launched in November of 2010, sees plenty of room for growth in the domestic RTD category and has appointed distribu- tors in 17 states. Over the next three to four months they expect to have distribution in NY, NJ, MD, DE, AZ, NM and IL. Retro-Inspired Packaging Retro soda bottles inspired the petite 200-ml. Cruiser bottle (SRP $8.99/four-pack) and vodka-based flavors like Raspberry, Ice, Electric Pink, Pineapple and Guava are Australia’s favorite single-serve sparklers. “Cruiser has fruity aromas and vibrant flavors that offer consumers an alternative to beer,” says Herman. Mudshake (SRP $8.99/four-pack) is a companion product that he describes as a “milkshake for adults.” The company uses a proprietary process to create the creamy chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cappuccino flavors in this vodka-based cocktail and the slender, tapered bottles are distinctly feminine. Bruce Herman, President of the U.S. Division of Independent Distillers, two of the company’s ready-to-drink products, Devil’s Triangle and Twisted Shotz Sex on the Beach. Twisted Shotz are highly visible impulse buys.

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