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Winter Is Coming…

By Matthew Fitzpatrick – Business Development Manager

Is it really almost winter again?! I don’t know about you but it feels like it was only last week I was sitting in my garden drinking an Orchard Thieves and complaining about how warm it was, how sad!

Thankfully winter has more to offer than just cold weather and going to work in the dark, much more in fact. For me, this time of year is all about being amongst friends with the fire lit, enjoying the craic along with some drinks whether that’s in my local pub or at home having a “quiet” night in. Which brings me to the purpose of my blog – to take you through my favourite winter drinks (sampling is strongly recommended).

Recently I have become a real gin enthusiast, and I can’t be the only one; over the past few years gin has taken the UK drinks market by storm, and is still the fastest growing spirit category. Recently this has been driven by an influx of flavoured gins with Whitley Neill accounting for 10% of all flavoured gins sold in the UK Off Trade (Nielson), and they are certainly not afraid to experiment. Their range includes rhubarb and ginger, blood orange and even quince, amongst others.

Personally, my favourite Friday night drink is a bitter sweet negroni, but with a contemporary twist. Take Whitley Neil Blood Orange gin; with its subtle liquorice and coriander notes that add a real balance to the citrus kick, and add it as the base to your mixed drink (25ml Whitley Neill Blood Orange Gin, 25ml sweet vermouth and 25ml Campari over ice.) Orange slice essential.

If you’re not in the mood for gin, then the winter months give us all the perfect excuse to reacquaint ourselves with some of our favourite red wines that perhaps have fallen by the way side in that long hot summer. In my role with United Wines I regularly find myself writing a wine list for my on trade customers. One red grape varietal I always ensure to include is the increasingly popular Malbec grape. It tends to be favoured amongst the more adventurous drinkers looking for a greater degree of choice. Offering wines such as Malbec will allow you to move more of your customers up the wine list, away from the more typical verities which tend to deliver a smaller cash margin.

For me, the best Malbec for the money is Cigar Box Old Vine, from Mendoza in Argentina. The wine displays aromas of ripe plum along with subtle hints of vanilla. It stands out for its meatiness and intense rich flavour while still having a really smooth finish. Drink with grilled meat…or alone in your room with the door locked…you’re the boss!

I hope you all agree that no collection of winter drinks would be complete without a mention of the festive season. That’s right; I’m talking about the Christmas period already! Specifically, Orchard Thieves Mulled Cider. Think taking all the classic flavours of Christmas and merging them with what is probably the best tasting cider on the market – what a perfect match.

From a trade perspective, statistics suggest that more than half of your customers switch to a category they don’t usually drink over the festive period. Orchard Thieves Mulled Cider offers you the chance to capitalise on this. In addition it also provides a unique opportunity to extend the sales period of the cider category, right through what we all know is the busiest time of year, by offering your customers an alternative festive drink to warm them up on a cold winter’s night.

We will be supplying a number of on trade Orchard Thieves customers with branded urns to help them keep their mulled cider at the perfect temperature. The urn also includes a starter pack of ingredients plus lots of branded heat-proof cardboard cups.  If you are interested in finding out more information, speak with your United Wines Sales Rep.

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