Four trends to watch in post-Covid distilling

Four trends to watch in post-Covid distilling

It is no secret that lockdowns and alcohol bans of the past two years had a major impact on the local liquor industry as a whole. Now that all Covid restrictions and bans in South Africa have finally been lifted, a new energy and excitement is capturing the industry.

The two years before the Covid lockdowns were characterised by a boom in the local distilling industry. Before March 2020, craft distilleries were popping up like mushrooms all around the country and new names and brands appeared on shelves and in online stores. Then followed the year-and-a-half during which the alcohol industry was severely limited or closed down on and off like a light switch – it was debilitating and destructive, to say the least.

But recovery and growth is already evident in this robust industry: let’s take a look at what’s new!

Challenging post-Covid recovery

The South African spirits distilling industry is not without its challenges. But it is resilient and has a loyal following, and it is not dependent on seasons or Mother Nature’s weather-whims as is the case with the wine industry. A new wave of innovative and well-crafted spirits have started appearing in stores and bars, to the relief of consumers and the hospitality sector.

Four trends to watch in post-Covid distilling

1. More innovation

In a flurry of renewed energy and innovation, distillers are creating new flavours, colours and packaging. Beautiful hues of purples and blues are being created with the addition of blueberries and blue pea flowers – take a look at Belle Rebelle’s Above & Beyond Blue Pea Gin and Benedict’s Blueberry and Elderflower-infused Premium Gin.

Benedicts Blueberry and Elderflower gin

As distillers create new flavours and styles in a flurry of new energy and innovation, consumers are in for a treat. Unexpected infusions of interesting ingredients are already showing up – examples are a Prickly Pear Gin from the Karoo, the newly launched Amarula Ethiopian Coffee Cream (a combination of marula fruit and real coffee extracts, obtained from single-origin Ethiopian Arabica beans) and Raspberry, Chocolate and African Baobab Amarula Cream Liqueur

Karoo Prickly Pear Gin

2. Local is (still) lekker

As local brands become more interesting and creative, consumers are taking note and showing increasing support for local brands. More often these are brands, flavours and tastes with which consumers are familiar, while the high price of imported products also play a role. It is also a fact that people feel real loyalty toward products which have been produced on home soil, which of course, is a good thing!

3. Healthier options

In line with contemporary trends in the food industry of creating more natural products, craft distillers are showing alignment with this way of thinking and responding to changing consumer habits. Distilled products are showing an increasing variety in low and no alcohol, low carb and low calorie offerings, which are proving to appeal to health-conscious consumers. 

4. Creating a story

Distillers have a need to show their journey: from sourcing their ingredients (mostly local origins) to experimenting with various distilling styles and processes, to creative packaging and marketing stories.


Of course there were going to be challenges, Covid or otherwise!

Local craft spirits brands are always in competition with international labels, with costs escalating due to a variety of global reasons such as the increased cost of transport.

Furthermore, it remains a challenge to keep production costs low and still offer consumers innovative, high quality products and remain in profit.

However, distillers are made of stern stuff and there is no doubt that the craft distilling industry will again grow and bloom!



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