Alcohol consumption is changing dramatically from staid and traditional heritage brand domination to modern, urban, idiosyncratic brands disrupting to meet the needs of an ever-curious consumer. Today, people are drawn to the tales behind the liquid, interesting names, the unquestionable quality of small-batch liquids and the beautiful packaging of boutique brands.
South Africans have seen over 400 story-rich brands grace the shelves in the Gin category since it’s boom circa 2016, with fascination and fancy found in infusions, flavours and botanical blends. Now, this innovation is happening in dark spirits too, where an increasing number of South Africans are fatigued by a cluttered market. and finding their interest moving over to the “dark side”. The trend and rise of dark spirits is just beginning, it’s therefore no surprise that industry pioneers Musgrave Crafted Spirits are paving the way for consumers to try something new and exciting in the premium Brandy category.
Musgrave Crafted Spirits – known for being an innovative and disruptive brand in the South African spirits industry – was amongst the first to launch premium craft products; Musgrave Original Gin and Musgrave Pink Gin. Boasting highly awarded flavour infusions that delight consumers worldwide, it’s the latest offering, Musgrave Copper (Infused potstill Brandy) that promises a new disruption in the market; Musgrave Copper Vanilla and Musgrave Copper Black Honey.
Today, pot still Brandy’s popularity is on the rise and this homegrown spirit has finally turned a corner. Nielsen Statistics (The Nielsen Company (US), LLC.) recently revealed an increase in volume of 4.7% for Brandy and Cognac between 2016 and 2017 in the off-consumption market. The market is ready for a “shake-up” and Musgrave Crafted Spirits saw the opportunity to partner with South Africa’s largest brandy producers to create these two innovative blends.
Founder, Simone Musgrave, explains her decision to enter the premium Brandy category; “Building Musgrave Crafted Spirits means not only disrupting traditional categories, but also aligning with the best in the business”. She continues, “ We were approached by the SA Brandy Foundation who are driving innovation and transformation in the premium Brandy sector. This particular category has been struggling for some time now with relevance and needed re-energising. After delving into trend research, this felt like the right move.”
Musgrave then engaged with Distell and its expert team from Van Ryns to assist with the development and supply. She comments, “The fact that South African Brandy, and in particular Van Ryns brandy is the most awarded brandy in the world, made it a no-brainer for me to collaborate with”. The base product provides the perfect canvas onto which the Musgrave story can be painted, staying true to the values of authentic African ingredients served in delicious new rituals and occasions.
In fact, with “remixing tradition” at the heart of the positioning statement for this new innovation, Simone Musgrave describes new Musgrave Copper as the brand that aims to “Act like cognac, talk like whisky, drink like brandy, spend like champagne, boom like gin, sell like vodka.”
Christelle Reade-Jahn, Director of the SA Brandy Foundation comments, “Musgrave Spirits has always led in terms of innovation and pushing the envelope. Simone and her team analyse and strategically approach the spirits market, and this allows the team to dissect target markets and create solutions that intrigue new users in the various categories. So too is the case with the innovative new flavours brought to market under the Musgrave Copper brand”.
The desire for authenticity and for interesting alternatives to mainstream brands feeds South Africa’s growing craft-culture. An explosion of craft Gins, Whiskeys and Rums are pushing boundaries on flavour and creating their own brand stories. Much the same way that Musgrave Crafted Spirits boldly encouraged a celebration of Gin 4 years ago as one of the first award-winning local brands on the market, the brand extension into dark spirits is all about creating new occasions and ways to drink Brandy, in hopes of banishing traditional misconceptions and associations to brandy-drinking.
The growth of food experimentation, experiences and events has overflowed into spirits and consumers are looking for creative alcoholic options. The blending of various styles and exploration of different flavours is blurring category lines. This, coupled with the popularity of brandy among new markets, continues to grow, especially within female and black urban consumers.
Musgrave Copper mixology honours this with a range of sexy and sophisticated cocktails that embrace bright colours, floral flavours, edible flowers, hibiscus teas, blends with Sherry and Chambord, desert-style grown up frozen milkshakes laced with Copper and spices, as well as fresh signature perfect-serves with Schweppes Mixers.
Simone Musgrave comments, “Celebrating the continent is very much our focus. We have access to a winter honey, collected by local communities within the national parks of Zambia. Vanilla represents so many of our Indian Islands around the coast of Africa. These stories, coupled with the savoury and sweet flavours of this brandy, seemed the perfect fit to celebrate these ingredients.”
Musgrave Copper is crafted to be the “Bourbon” of Brandy. A new genre that remixes the brandy category to play where cognac has feared to tread. Copper is luxurious, disruptive, infused and made to mix. It’s a flavour-infused brandy with subtle flavours and a distinctly African palate. Musgrave Copper is more aligned to the Cognac drinker than to a traditional Brandy drinker using the finest potstill brandy with added excitement of flavour-infusion. It attracts a consumer who exists beyond the preconceptions of their gender, age or race; they seek out the new.
“Brandy is going to have it’s moment, and we’re going to be there to make those moments memorable with our consumer, just be sure to know, it’s called “Copper” now, winks Musgrave.