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‘Reflection of trends’: How our alcoholic tastes are changing

“You’ve got men and women together, these are the types of products that appeal to both genders. Those situations are becoming more and more important for liquor companies, and that’s why you’ve seen beer companies move into lower alcoholic options to make them more palatable for women,” Mr Bone said.

“They’re essentially going after the same type of consumer and the same occasion.”

The annual International Wine and Spirit report found said that gin was easily the fastest-growing alcohol in Australia, with more than 170 distilleries nationally. Sparkling wines, most dark spirits, and mainstream beer brands have suffered.

Prosecco has shot from obscurity and increased its total revenues by more than 500 per cent since 2013, while rose’s popularity has nearly tripled, with sales rising by $111 million in that time period. While sauvignon blanc remains the most-popular wine in Australia in terms of total sales, shiraz is tipped to overtake it within the next year.

“People are looking for wines of elegance, I think. Rose’s an example of that – it’s a different style from what was a traditional rose style. It was a much-maligned style at one stage,” Leconfield’s chief winemaker Paul Gordon said.

“Authenticity’s always been an important element of the wine industry, but probably more so now. Small and artisanal wines are using good quality products.”

Booming: City Wine Shop’s Isabelle Szyman pours a rose.

Booming: City Wine Shop’s Isabelle Szyman pours a rose. Credit:Joe Armao

“Gin was a category that was ready to have a popularity spike, just because people were ready to be introduced to more local and intense flavour,” said Jesse Kennedy, the co-creator of Poor Tom’s gin distillery in Marrickville.

He and business partner Griffin Blumer remember drinking gin and tonics even at house parties as teenagers. But when they ended up living together in 2014 as the craft beer scene was taking off, they saw an opportunity.

“Gin follows the culinary trends like with craft beer and wine, where people were becoming more interested in what ingredients were being used,” Mr Kennedy said.

“It’s a brighter, fun drink. There’s good story-telling elements around the process of making it.”

IBISWorld analyst Matthew Reeves said that gin has been “booming” in Australia over the past couple of years, benefiting from the premiumisation trend. Gin sales in Australia are up more than 16 per cent over the year.

“Local producers such as Four Pillars have seen significant demand, but the larger players are also seeing growth,” he said.

Diageo saw sales of its Gordon’s Gin growing by $12 million in the past year, making it the fastest-growing spirit brand in the country.

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The company’s light spirits marketing manager, Linda Wellington, said that Gordon’s huge boom had been boosted by the introduction of pink gin.

“It’s capitalising on a number of trends coming together,” she said. “The popularity of gin, consumers loving to experiment with colour, and people can have fun with it.”

“People are coming into spirits at the moment. Less people are drinking but people are making different choices. We say that people are drinking less, but better.”

Chris Broughton, is the principal wine buyer who runs the wine programs for City Wine Shop in Melbourne, as well as three other neighbouring retailers.

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His shop is “certainly diversifying” in what they sell.

“People are moving away from having one sort of food, one sort of beer. They want to explore everything and look at other possibilities,” he said.

“A lot of younger people tend to be more interested in the story and the perspective and want to drill down into the idea of where the winemaker got their ideas from. There’s a lot more information and romance about it.”

People are also focused on a decrease in the use of bug sprays and chemicals, as the organic and natural wine industry also continues to grow rapidly.

“There are younger people moving into the industry who don’t want to do things the way big companies do it.”

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