Saturday, February 21, 2015

What is With All This Craft Stuff?

     It seems that in the liquor industry these days nearly every new product is craft, single estate, single vintage, or something to lead you to believe that it is something that is really special.  Most of us don't have any idea what they mean anyway. 

Tito Cordero and Single Vintage 1997
     For instance what is "single vintage" mean?  No idea, well it means that it is all made from the same years crop.  Whether it is wine or any other spirit, it is the same definition.  Diplomatico introduced a Single Vintage 1997 expression a few years back, Tito Cordero, offered an honest "Single Vintage" Rum that was released in a very limited number of bottles.   If the spirit is truly a "single vintage", then it is in fact one that will not be around very long.  When they are around year after year, than it is probably not a true "single vintage".  Richard Seale of Foursquare Rum Distillery, also offered a "Vintage 1998" expression.   Both of these are true  to the spirit of the term expressions, and not just a marketing ploy.

Foursquare Vintage 1998
     In the business, there is no real hard and fast definitions for these very  ambiguous terms.  What is a "craft" spirit, or a single estate spirit?    Unfortunately. there is a lot of usage of these terms by the industry and this practice has left the consumer doubting the validity of the terms.  There have been several "class action" lawsuits about the use of these terms on the labels, but the industry seems to continue to use them.

Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard has made some interesting statements for the use of the the word craft in the industry.  He said he was “struggling with the definition” of craft spirits, and argued that some of his company’s brands have more of a right to describe themselves as “craft” than other smaller producers.   “We need to communicate to consumers what ‘real’ craft is”, he said, continuing that it is less about the size of production than the “story” behind a brand and its people when it comes to the “craft” label.

     Until there is a real meaning for these terms as to what they really mean and how they are to be used on the label of your spirits, they are becoming a "marketing ply" in the minds of many consumers.  Lets really put the quality in the bottle that these terms are indicating is there and the problem will truly cease to exist.