Hard Seltzer

This Aussie-invented low alcohol drink has been the subject of massive investment, but returns are disappointing

ANDREW J. LINN

Maybe we should breathe a sigh of relief when we see no-one ordering hard seltzer in our local bar.

This Aussie-invented low alcohol drink has been the subject of massive investment, but returns are disappointing, and if the product is aimed at beer drinkers, it is not setting the world on fire.

WINE OF THE WEEK

  • Los Vientos Rufete 2018

  • Here is a wine that proves the rule in the last paragraph of the main article - a marvellous red made from 80-year-old vines in the Sierra de Salamanca, possibly the last place one expects outstanding wines to come from. A touch of spices and tannin with the acidity right on the nose. If you hurry you may find a bottle at Contracata in Marbella, also online: astonishing value at 14 euros.

Hard Seltzer is usually a combination of carbonated water with neutral spirit with flavourings or fruit-based alcohol. Alcohol content is around 5%.

The product was developed in Australia in 1993, where it was promoted as 'the world's first brewed alcoholic lemonade'.

Nethertheless, by 2019 several of the initial investors anticipated the boom was over.

Too many brands

There are too many brands and drinkers are confused, although if we had to invent a new alcoholic drink from zero, this would be it: cheap, gluten-free, low calorie and low alcohol.

Brewer Mahou San Miguel has been the first to make it here, recommending its Hard Seltzer be taken with water and a slice of lime, or just drunk straight from the can.

The challenge is of course whether beer drinkers, young people and soft drink consumers will go overboard for a completely innovative product.

The drinks business is one of the hardest of any category in which to lunch a new item.

It is highly conservative, and we only have to look at the percentage of wine drinkers still opting for the two routine regional choices, Rioja and Ribera del Duero (there are more than sixty other regions available), to understand the difficulties of expecting a completely new product to obtain a reasonable market share.