This year, French beverage giant Pernod Ricard will introduce Absolut Lime, the first new flavor for the brand since Absolut Cilantro in 2013. Even though flavoured vodka sales have declined in the United States in recent years, Pernod Ricard believes there are opportunities for growth in the flavoured-vodka industry. The roll out of the new flavour will begin this month and full distribution is projected for end of February.
The flavour innovation kicked off in the vodka industry after the beverage was dismissively called “odourless, colourless, flavourless” by whiskey and tequila producers. Sales soared when the vodka industry discovered this formula for success as consumers were given new reasons to return to the shelves for vanilla, lemon and other flavour additions.
Simple flavour additions like these made it easier for these drinks to be mixed and it would appear the vodka industry got too comfortable. With the introduction of confectionery-inspired flavours like cinnamon and birthday cake, more consumers started to move away from flavoured vodka in favour of dark spirits, indicating a significant shift in drinking behaviour in the United States. Even bacon-flavoured vodka was found in retail shelves and soon, the Distilled Spirits Council reported that the sale of flavoured vodka dropped by 1.1 million cases in 2015.
The vodka industry has become more prudent about flavour innovation and vodka sales are still growing. Pernod Ricard thinks consumers still love the more traditional flavours, particularly the citrus-based ones. “We launched Absolut Citron almost 30 years ago. As we looked at the category, we realized that citrus was a top position for Absolut” said Nick Guastaferro who run’s Absolut’s business in the United States. According to Guastaferro, the classic citrus flavours are easier for bartenders and drinkers at home to understand. “You can add lime juice to make more complex cocktails, but the idea is that the Absolut Lime liquid can stand on its own and you don’t need the lime. That step can be replaced.” Guastaferro said.
In addition to launching Absolut Lime, Pernod Ricard will be streamlining focus on the brand. It’s been revealed that even though 17 flavours are available in the United States, focus will be on 10 flavours including Citron, Mandrin, Ruby Red, Mango, Peppar, Vanilla, Apeach, Raspberri, Pear and the new Lime. “We wanted to think about the flavours in our portfolio and build from a point of strength—classic flavors. This is a simple flavour that a bartender can play with—that’s really the thinking that led to the launch of Absolut Lime” said Guastaferro.
There are no known plans to make Absolut Lime available in the international market, but we can only hope this happens soon. Absolut Lime should be fantastic for Nigerians!