It’s hard not to think that we are witnessing the golden age of alcohol. Everywhere you turn, fantastic new bottles, beverages, bars, and brews keep popping up, but keeping up with them all can be a full-time job. Trust me, I know I do this for a living, and I can only imagine how daunting it must be for the casual drinker.
The Tasting Alliance believes that they have the answer to this problem. As the stewards of some of the most prestigious award events in the alcohol industry- the San Francisco International Wine Competition, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, New York Wine & Spirits Competition, and the Singapore World Spirits Competition, their understanding of the international alcohol landscape is unparalleled. Now, they have decided it’s time to share their knowledge with the consumer with the launch of their new online platform, thetastingalliance.com.
“I believe that we have reached the top of our field by having some of the most prestigious competitions on the planet. Retailers, restaurants, airlines, hotels, and others look to us as a place to find vetted bottles and brands to slot into their liquor programs,” says Amanda Blue, the president and COO of the Tasting Alliance. “But we realized that the everyday consumer was flooded with a glut of products. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to know what’s good and what’s not. So, we set out to change that by creating an unbiased one-stop-shop where they could learn about our competition’s, get educated on brands and trends, become exposed to brands they otherwise wouldn’t know about, and buy said brands through trusted retail partners.”
By merging its almost five decades of history with a consumer-focused storefront and knowledge center, the Tasting Alliance is forging a new path. Long known as the gatekeepers of taste, the numerous high-profile alcohol competitions across the globe have been content to bestow awards on brands and leave it at that. It was up to the brands and retail side of the industry to showcase their accolades and drive sales. This pivot to directly interact with the consumers is a first and could quickly change the alcohol landscape.
The website is brimming with information. Award-winning bars, stellar restaurant programs, cocktail collections, and wine and food pairings share space with their recommendations for the world’s best rums, whiskeys, and other spirits in stories written by the Tasting Alliance team. The latest winners of their coveted double gold medals are offered for sale due to their partnership with ReserveBar. The award winners of all their competitions are easily accessible, allowing collectors and enthusiasts to undertake research easily. Upcoming events where consumers can meet their team and try hard to find products are laid out alongside their insights into the next hot trends.
In anticipation of furthering the Tasting Alliance’s reach, they recently launched two new events, the Beer Competition and the RTD Competition. There are plans to launch smaller satellite events in Mexico, Berlin, and China soon to unearth new products and trends. Plus, they have started holding pop-up activations at some of the more significant wine and food festivals to expand their exposure. All these items are designed to further their consumer-focused footprint and expand their knowledge base.
As a part of their change in strategy, their newly launched Tasting Alliance Advisors arm will help new up-and-coming brands. By focusing on product development, brand strategy, talent recruitment, and brand activation, they hope to allow smaller brands to expand and succeed.
“When brands come through our pipeline, especially at the end of the competitions, we have found many need some help. They are often a smaller producer making something great now with a big spotlight on them, especially if they took home some awards,” says Blue. “The idea of the advisors is to ask them what help they need next and pair them with certain companies that we know are the best. It’s a free service, and we hope our competitions can act as an incubator moving forward. We can uncover hot new bottles, ensure they are set for success, and then introduce them through our platform to people looking for something interesting.”
The plans are for the Tasting Alliance footprint to keep growing over the next few years as they attempt to become an invaluable resource for drinkers. Judging by their history and their latest moves, the chances are good that more and more people will find themselves heading their way to research the latest offerings. Hopefully, that reduces their headaches and makes their beverages easier to swallow.