Hot or Not?

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Related tags: Tia lusso, Beer

Which drinks will be doing the moving and shaking in 2003 and which ones will be standing still? Ben McFarland gets his crystal ball out.While it is...

Which drinks will be doing the moving and shaking in 2003 and which ones will be standing still? Ben McFarland gets his crystal ball out.

While it is nigh-on impossible to predict what will tickle the fickle fancy of the UK drinker, has stuck its neck out and compiled a list of brands it expects to be hot, and also a few that might not, in 2003.

There was no crystal ball involved nor was Mystic Meg contacted - the following selection is based on nothing more than a hunch, a sixth sense if you will.

In fact the only certainty is that, when it comes to reviewing the prophesies at the end of the year armed with the powerful tool that is hindsight, few if any are likely to have come true and there will probably be a large slice of humble pie to be eaten.

Ones to watch

  • Carling Extra Cold in Scotland

Brace yourself for an Anglo-Scottish clash to make the Battle of Bannockburn look like a teenage scuffle.

At the end of last year, Carling Extra Cold sneaked across the border into a lager market dominated by its former friend turned foe, Tennent's.

England's most popular pint initially adopted a "softly softly catchee monkey" approach but the gloves were thrown off last month in spectacular fashion.

With Hogmanay hangovers still lingering, owner Coors announced a £12m three-year shirt sponsorship deal with both Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers.

While the English pretender is unlikely to usurp Tennent's from its throne, Carling has tossed an almighty caber into the standard lager sector north of the border with the Auld Firm link-up.


Yes, sherry. Just go with me on this one.

No, not the sweet and sticky stuff that your gran drinks from a schooner, but rather the Spanish wine that's drier than an Egyptian's flip-flop.

Sherry is being dubbed the new chardonnay if murmurings from the style bar sector are to be taken seriously.

Hip movers, shakers and opinion makers have reportedly been spotted sipping chilled fino, oloroso and manzanilla in all the right places.

2003 is the year when people finally realise that, like puppies, sherry is for life not just for Christmas.

Tia Lusso

You don't have to be a woman to drink Tia Lusso, but it helps.

Luckily for Allied Domecq, half the population are ladies, oh yes, and it seems a not insubstantial number have taken to the taste of this new cream liqueur.

Since its launch last year, Tia Lusso has sold like veritable hot cakes and in doing so turned the screw on Diageo's market leading Bailey's brand.

With a lower calorie count and a fistful of marketing spend behind it, don't be surprised if Tia Lusso rises further to the top of a lucrative cream liqueur sector.

Heineken and Amstel

Not content with enticing us with their drugs and liberal attitude to sex, the Dutch will be leading us further astray with a two-pronged lager launch this year.

Stronger, better-looking and more flavoursome than its Cold Filtered predecessor, the new premium Heineken is set for a return on February 24 complete with a £24m marketing spend and a rather fancy European-style glass rinser.

And with Stella Artois trying to cling onto its premium credentials in the face of reassuringly extensive mainstream distribution and a "competitive" off-trade price, it seems the new and improved Heineken is entering the premium lager sector at just the right time.

The Dutch brewer is also hoping to create a new "super standard" lager category with the arrival of Amstel on tap.

The brand, massive in Europe, already has a high UK profile courtesy of its sponsorship of the Champions League, worth an estimated £9m, and given time it is bound to shake up a stagnant standard lager category.

1980s iconic brands

Horrific haircuts, white stilletoes, Shakin' Stevens, Margaret Thatcher, yuppies... there are a lot of things from the 1980s that few would welcome back.

But several drinks brands synonymous with the decade are set to break free from back-bar obscurity and ride a retro-wave onto the beach of success, you mark my words.

The likes of Campari, Martini, Pernod, Malibu and Babycham will not only prove a hit with drinkers too young to remember their fall from grace but will also strike a chord with those who are mature enough to be nostalgic.

Remember, you read it here first!

Ones to ignore

  • Magma

"The inflatable dartboard of the drinks industry," said one industry insider.

Imagine an eye-watering mix of Tabasco sauce and cod liver oil with the consistency of Night Nurse and you're half way there.

It's been about as popular as Osama Bin Laden so far and few expect it to succeed in an increasingly cluttered shots and shooter sector.

Any new vodka-based premium packaged spirit

Please, for the love of Moses, no more.

Listen-up all you pesky marketing boys and girls - launching a vodka-based PPS is not big and it's certainly not clever, especially after Gordon Brown dropped his budget bombshell last year.

Gordon's unexpected tax hike kickstarted the much-anticipated shake-out and surely only those PPS brands with a bulging bank balance will be left standing this time next year.

For those companies without a spare £10m down the back of the sofa, the boat has been missed, the horse has bolted and the fat lady is already warbling. So don't bother!

Smoothflow Beers

Once upon a time smoothflow beers were all the rage - regarded as the future of ale and the final nail in the coffin for cask.

Drinkers disillusioned with the inconsistencies of cask ale joined the nitrokeg revolution, national brewers rubbed their hands with glee and CAMRA got in an almighty huff.

A decade on, though, and a power shift is taking place in the ale sector with a number of regional brands all making gains at the expense of their nitrogenated rivals.

What's more, like an adulterous husband who has seen the folly of his ways, the nationals have launched a number of brands in 2002 in an anxious attempt to rekindle their relationship with the cuckolded cask ale.

The leading smoothflow brands, which were flying so high in the late 90s, are bound to suffer as a result.


Babe was originally released as a one-off concept in the take-home sector for Valentine's Day, and frankly that should have been the end of it.

But now its sights are firmly set on the nation's impressionable young person's venues who don't know any better.

It's a "funky Californian chardonnay for the girl that wants it all... and gets what she wants!" according to the PR bumf. Strangely, however, none of the ladies we asked wanted to slurp plonk through a straw from a tacky looking pink plastic bottle, even if it is funky and Californian.

Related topics: Soft & Hot Drinks

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