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Fruit spirits ripe for UK revival?

Published:  23 July, 2008

The winner of the first distilled fruit spirits trophy at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) is confident that the category is ripe for a revival in the UK.

Peter Angel, general manager of Austrian distiller Freihof, which won the trophy for its pear-based Hmmerle Vom Ganz Guten Williams Birnenbrand, is looking for listings in the UK for the first time.

Speaking at an IWSC-organised seminar on fruit spirits, he told Harpers: People are always looking for new tastes and new products. Everyone says that sales of fruit spirits are decreasing, but sales of quality products are increasing. Fruit spirits are the quintessence of fruit, and we try and catch it in the glass.'

IWSC PR manager Lesley Gray explained that the trophy category was created in light of the Swiss relaxing laws, which, since 1 June this year, now allow macerated fruit to be added to the spirit at a ratio of 5kg:20kg. Furthermore, fruit flavouring that differs from the original fruit distillate may be added, provided that the fundamental character of the spirit does not change.

Angel, who will be targeting top-class restaurants in London', explained that fruit spirits are traditionally drunk as a dgustif in Austria. There should be some opportunities in the UK, and there are plenty of consumers looking for something new, and top-class spirits,' he said.

When you drink a Cognac or a single malt, you're mainly tasting the tannins of the oak. But when you drink apple distillate, you're almost drinking the apple itself, and that's why you get these intense aromas.'

IWSC judge Arthur Ngele, who led the seminar, said: I think that fruit spirits could be a growth market in the UK, because there is nothing like them in the UK market.'