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Flavoured Vodka Trends 2023

April 27, 2023

Flavoured Vodka Trends 2023

FLAVOURED VODKA – SHAKEN NOT STIRRED

Flavoured vodka is in vogue. Variations on the otherwise flavourless and colourless spirit are helping to rewrite its reputation.

In particular, the growing use of flavoured varieties in cocktails is driving growth for the sub-category. So, while the wider white spirits category might have been shaken by increasing costs for producers and consumers around the world, the vodka category is largely undisturbed; it is expected to continue to grow this year, building on being the largest in the white spirits category in 2021*.

Diageo, the distiller behind the Smirnoff brand, has said its double-digit vodka growth in 2022 came from a 300% leap in cocktail consumption, as reported by The Spirits Business*.

Simpsons Beverages - Flavoured Vodka Shots

SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITIES

While it shouldn’t be underestimated how much all alcoholic drinks are facing challenges – discretionary expenses on items like beers, wines and spirits are impacted by slowed consumer spending – there are still plenty of opportunities for flavoured vodka.

Consumers’ desire for individual moderation but shared experiences can support the category. While alcohol sales are impacted by people cutting back for both their health and their wealth, flavoured vodka suits the rise in at-home drinking occasions and gift-giving, creating opportunities for limited edition or themed releases. For drinkers and buyers of white spirits, smaller bottles appeal to 68% of people who have cut back on retail spending due to money concerns, Mintel has found**. Smaller bottles or lower ABV vodkas can maintain sales through smaller volumes.

And white spirits can also align with ongoing trends for wellness and moderation – 33% of adults agree that white spirits are better for weight control than other alcoholic drinks, according to Mintel**.

To sustain sales growth, these are the flavours and marketing moves that could quickly set flavoured vodka trends in 2023.

Simpsons Beverages - Pink Lemonade Cocktail

FLAVOUR FAVOURITES AND COLOURFUL CREATIONS

Apple, tropical and berry-based flavours are the bestsellers for flavoured vodkas. These recognisable, crowd pleasers elevate a standard vodka both with tastes and the opportunity to create colourful versions. Attractive packaging is important to 51% of white spirits buyers**.

Smirnoff last year added a bright Berry Burst flavour to its flavoured vodka range, standing out on shelves both in bars and supermarkets. This launch came as there was a 70% growth for flavoured vodka in off-trade, Better Retailing reported***.

These standard base ingredients can be enhanced with extra tastes of complementary botanicals, like spices and florals, or through recipe ideas to suit the growth in at-home cocktail-making using flavoured vodka bases.

NEW FLAVOURS & EXPERIENCES

Flavour innovation can drive the flavoured vodka category’s growth – as the successes of the flavoured gin category has proven.

These could draw on 2023 trends for smokey or spicy flavours – such as spicy chilli vodkas or a smokey cardamom-based vodka – or established tart and sour flavours. Bitters and sours continue to be flavour favourites – from the 2022 favourite blood orange to the now-well established tastes of Aperol Spritz.

New flavour innovations in the last year have ranged from earthy flavours to super sweet tastes. Green Man Spirits created a Wildwood Vodka with sweet, woody notes, while BrewDog partnered with confectioners Candy Kittens to create a hot pink Raspberry & Guava flavoured vodka.

Simpsons Beverages - Salty Vodka

Unique ingredients like these are important to 54% of white spirits buyers**. Provenance is another new area to tap into for flavoured vodka. The spirit has experienced some backlash for its Russian roots in the wake of the war in Ukraine, so British-made vodkas are highlighting their homegrown provenance to appeal to drinkers.

For fresh creations, producers are also using savoury flavours. Portobello Road Distillery released a limited edition runs of potato and asparagus vodkas last year. And to suit 2023’s ‘swalty’ cuisine trend, Isle of Wight Distillery created a small batch salt vodka. Pickle vodkas could combine the savoury and sour taste trends with wider wellness trends.

GLOBAL FLAVOURS

Taking inspiration from 2023 drinks trends for adventurous Asian flavours, flavoured vodkas can offer some exotic escapism too. Uncommon Vodka has added yuzu lemon and umesha plum flavours to its range whilst Absolut has used some global flavours in its new shot range, featuring Smoky Pina and Tropical Fruit flavours. Innovative and international flavours are also being created through unusual preparation techniques too.

Kirker Greer Spirits’ Ukiyo Japanese Rice Vodka is crafted using koji fungus, to create a pure, smooth taste.

Simpsons Beverages - Pineapple Flavoured Vodka

INVESTING IN SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION

Sustainability can be a key driver for flavoured vodka’s growth too. Sustainable production is regarded as important by 56% of people who buy white spirits**. A range of drinks brands and manufacturers have already demonstrated both the feasibility and success of sustainable approaches.

British vodka brand Black Cow has developed a refillable, reusable and shock-proof glass vessel – the Ecotote. Made in partnership with Ecospirits, the vessel is designed to replace the standard six-bottle cases used in on-trade, reducing reliance on single use glass.

Building on its carbon reduction credentials, BrewDog has developed a range of Bad Beer Vodka. Made from beer which didn’t meet its standards, the range includes two flavoured vodkas.

Elsewhere, Ugly Vodka is made using ‘imperfect’ apples, diverting up to 20 tonnes of fruit away from waste. And for a luxury take on sustainability, Fortnum & Mason and Sapling Spirits have created a ‘climate positive’ citrus vodka, using the citrus peel waste from Fortnum’s bar.

START YOUR NEXT PROJECT

Simpsons are experts in making flavours for flavoured vodka. Speak to our team for insights and guidance on developing new and improved flavours for your lines.

*The Spirits Business, World Spirits Report 2022: Vodka 

**Mintel, White Spirits & RTDs UK 2023 

***Better Retailing, June 2022

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