Spirits trends to look out for in 2020

Spirits trends to look out for in 2020

Ever wondered what the spirits trends to watch will be in 2020?  Remarkable changes and surprising trends emerge every year and this year is no exception with a lot of predictions that have been put out in the open.




According to The Spirits Gurus, the rise of low alcohol beverages and the growth of spiced and botanical rums will be a hit this year. Looking back at 2019 rum has made itself known and has undoubtedly had a few moments in the spotlight. In 2020, the trend is for rum consumption is set to continue rising as attitudes change.


However, The Whisky Exchange, indicates that premiumisation is key as consumers are looking for better quality products, ditching the mixer, and seeking rums best served neat.  “The premium rum trend will gain momentum this year, driven in the on-trade by the bar community.”  Says Michael Lebona Pernod Ricard’s Inland General Manager


The Rum Ambassador for South Africa, Andy Kiloh, says since he started at The RumBro Four years ago, he has been preaching that Rum was the next big thing coming to South Africa:  “It was making waves in the rest of the world and we usually follow International trends. It was a bit slower than we had hoped. Rum Is now however having its moment to shine worldwide with great Premium Rums becoming available. These Rums, although Premium by nature, are not only for sipping but also for really great cocktails and very important in the Tiki Drinks environment which is also growing in South Africa.


Having just recently convened the SA Rum Jury, it was really great to see how much the Rum category had grown. We had 37 Rums submitted of which 11 were International Rums, 26 Local Rums from 22 Companies. There are currently around 23 Craft Distillers with product available in the market and probably another 5 or 6 coming online during the next year”.




The ‘drink less, but better’ notion have been the most supported by the consumers – and all signs point towards continued demand for low‐ and no‐ABV (0% Alcohol By Volume) brands in 2020.


Michael says that South Africans, like their counterparts across the United States and Europe, have become very health conscious. “We are noticing an increasing trend of ABV brands entering the market across beers and spirits.

This can also be attributed to rising levels of awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving and the alcohol industry continues to drive awareness of alcohol abuse under the auspices of Aware.org.za. Pernod Ricard also introduced its 1-4-1 initiative, encouraging the consumption of one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage, in late 2018”.




Tonic out; Soda in – that’s according to The Whisky Exchange. Consumers are becoming more discerning about how they are drinking spirits. They are not just changing their choice of spirit but also the mixer used to allow the flavours of a spirit to shine by using pure soda rather than masking it with sugar and other flavourings.  Negative stories about the impact of sugar in our diets have dominated the media for years and switching to soda water is additionally considered a more-informed choice.


On the other hand, a trend to watch and shared by The Telegraph is that producers will combine the ethics of sustainability while exploring spirits outside the confines of strict categories – consumers can expect whisky that might not seem like whisky, and spirits that have yet to be defined.




Michaels says Gin rode the wave last year and will continue its dominance over other spirits in 2020 because of its universal appeal. Consumers appreciate it because it can be served in many variations, appreciated across gender and is well-suited for the South African climate.


With well over 300 gins in the South African market driven by local craft, affordable, and premium/super-premium gins, this category will continue to drive growth for companies that have a strong portfolio and world-class execution.


Ansie De Beer, owner of Melodramatic Craft Spirits notes that non-alcoholic gin might also gain popularity.  “I think gin will continue its popularity in 2020. Consumers still get excited about the different brands and variations, the different tonics and garnishes. I think non-alcoholic gin will also gain popularity, so that non-drinkers can also enjoy gin cocktails. There is nothing better than a gin and tonic in our South African climate”.


This continued growth of gin popularity is in line with global trends. We are likely going to see this trend continuing for at least another two years, similar to the rise of Vodka five years ago.