Drink Trends March 2023

March 8, 2023

Drink Trends March 2023

Our Drink Trends March 2023 report covers the latest changes and trends impacting the drinks market together with new techniques and old traditions, as well as extracted ingredients and extra flavours.

New technologies are enhancing the flavours and appeal of decaffeinated coffee, while relaxed rules are paving the way for flavoured whiskeys. Changes to sourcing and preparing ingredients are the focus of the slow drinking movement, while the changing seasons are heralding a raft of Spring-inspired drinks.

New world whiskeys

While traditions are important in whiskey making and drinking, the category has never shied away from innovation.

Different woods, casks and stills, alternative grains or barley varieties, and new blends and aging techniques are all defining new world whiskey trends. These are reinvigorating traditional Scotch or Irish whiskeys, though, rather than replacing them.

The category has had to keep pace with other spirits, such as contemporary gins, rums and tequilas. To this end, premium flavoured whiskeys have become more commonplace, particularly since the Scotch Whisky Association relaxed its rules around experimentation and the use of a wider range of casks in 2019.

These usually bring in complementary flavours – such as honey, coffee or apple – during the distillation process. For example, Glenmorangie kilned barley with native botanicals to create a flavoured whiskey. Such creations are aimed at young people who typically drink less.

Flavoured Whiskey

For the younger market, alcohol-free whiskeys can be appealing too. ‘Dry Drams’ focus on the rich flavours of traditional whiskeys. Lyre’s has launched a zero proof Highland Malt, while Johnnie Walker is exploring alcohol-free versions of its whiskeys and rums. And since the NoLo market is forecast to grow by 8% in coming years, even whiskey purists won’t be able to argue with these experimentations.

Ready-to-drink (RTD) options also help the spirit to reach a wider range of consumers. Ginger or citruses are the most common complementary flavours for an RTD whiskey – such as Stanward’s tonic and grapefruit whiskey, or Manly Spirits’ native ginger, finger lime and soda whiskey highball, each retailed as RTDs in Australia.

RTD whiskey

Decaf & lowcaf coffee
Decaffeinated coffee has had a boost from new technologies, creating premium decafs, functional decafs, lowcaf coffees and ‘DIY decaf’ kits.

Decaffeinated coffee

As health trends push drinkers to seek out lower caffeine options, there’s been growing appetite for decaffeinated coffee. Decafs support the mindful drinking movement too – coffee lovers needn’t go cold turkey to cut back.

One of decaf’s downsides used to be the techniques required to create it, relying on chemical solvents. Now, more natural methods prevail, including the Swiss Water Method used on high quality coffees. This soaks green coffee beans in pure water before filtering out the caffeine.

New decaffeination techniques also ensure caffeine can be extracted without impacting on full flavours, creating high quality coffees that taste just like the real thing.

New techniques have been used for lowcaf coffees too. This includes growers cultivating coffee beans with lower caffeine content, and a producer developing caffeine filter pouches, for drinkers to dip in and moderate their favourite coffees. For those still wanting their premium coffees, just with less kick, decaf-specific coffee subscriptions allow drinkers to try a range of region-specific blends and single origin decafs.

Instant coffee has kept up with the decaf trend too, with premium brands creating instant versions of their decaffeinated coffee and established decaf producers developing premium, flavoured decaf options.

Slow drinking

Slow drinking is picking up pace across the drinks market. Mixologists have drawn inspiration from the slow food movement, which spotlights local food cultures and traditions, to create considered beverages.

slow drinking

In practice ‘slow drinking’ looks at the origins of produce, taking a ‘garden-to-glass’ or ‘farm-to-glass’ approach to developing beverages. Homegrown, native, foraged and seasonal ingredients are key, as well as sourcing from smaller, local suppliers.

Slow drinking is driven by wider trends for wild foods, craft drinks, preparation methods like distillation and fermentation. It also links with dual social and environmental concerns, such as protection of indigenous communities and biodiversity.

The movement is sure to influence the wider drinks market. As consumers are keen to protect the environment, local and seasonal produce is preferred, as are opportunities to limit or prevent waste, as well as ways to incorporate or create new flavours – all of which are met by the principles of slow drinking.

Spring drink flavours are blooming

Spring flavoured drinks

New drinks are springing up to celebrate the changing seasons. Starbucks has launched a cherry blossom Saku Frappuccino – a Sakura soy latte topped with crispy strawberry-flavoured macaron. This follows the ‘pretty in pink’ Strawberry Acai Refresher drink Starbucks offered US consumers for Valentine’s Day. Also in the US, Pepsi has brought back its Easter themed Peeps-marshmallow flavoured soda. Over in Japan, Lindt has launched a Sakura Kaoru pistachio chocolate drink, inspired by the country’s famous cherry blossoms.

A new favourite, and a Lilt change

Guinness has been named the most popular pint in the UK. The famous Irish stout now accounts for one in every nine pints pulled in the UK, according to Diageo.

Pineapple and grapefruit flavoured Fanta

And finally, tropical soft drink Lilt has been taken off the shelves – sort of. Coca Cola has moved “the totally tropical taste” – as Gen X drinkers will remember its old strapline being – into the Fanta family, as a Pineapple & Grapefruit flavoured Fanta.

For the latest drinks industry juice or category-specific trends, check out our other blogs and reports or follow us on socials.

Image source: The Food People 2023

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