Retailers must offer consumers a distinctive premium alcohol range, as demand for heritage brands increases.

Nielsen data has revealed sales of premium spirits grew by 9.2% to exceed £1bn last year, while craft beers grew by 69%.

Phil Whitehead, Molson Coors’ managing director for UK and Ireland, said premium lines focused on provenance are appealing, as consumers are attracted to distinctive brands.

“This has been increasingly apparent in the cider category and is similar to what happened to craft gin, as that trend focused on offering shoppers different experiences and tastes,” he said. 

Craft gin has led the way in premium spirits because of its cultural credentials, said Leanne Ware, senior marketing manager at Halewood Wines & Spirits.  

Claire Kendall, senior customer category man-ager for impulse and wholesale at Diageo, added heritage is important as shoppers want “richer value and experience”.

Nick Williamson, marketing director at Campari, agreed: “There is a definite trend towards spirits with rich heritage and consumers are seeking beverages they can engage with.”

Ian Hewitt, owner of Spitfire Heritage Distillers, said independents can make their stores destinations for premium alcohol by offering heritage brands.

“Retailers should learn the story behind spirits to explain to consumers what they are. This will further incentivise them to buy,” he said. 

Gill Warren, of Open All Hours in Cumbria, said she has sold 10 cases of Solway Spirits’ Rhubarb Crumble Gin in the past two months, as more consumers look for local, heritage brands.

“As we have a lot of tourists coming in looking for premium, local brands, it sells even more,” she said.