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Raising the Spirits

spirits, spirit show, trade show, Hospitality, cocktails, interview

The Spirit Show is a two-day celebration of the world's finest spirits, mixers and cocktails. We spoke with Jeremy Hopkins, Spirit Show Consultant and Hospitality Industry Stalwart, about the upcoming show and the top trends in the spirits sector this year.

The Spirit Show, which is taking place this November, celebrates the finest spirits in the world and is one of the most exciting tasting shows on the London events calendar. Attendees can network, meet and learn from world-class bartenders and sample the finest products.

We caught up with Jeremy Hopkins, long term client of Off to Work at various Five Star Hotel properties, and who came onboard as a consultant after being approached by the Spirit Show team prior to its first launch. With his 30 years' high end hospitality experience and wealth of knowledge across the events, hospitality and drinks sector - he was, and continues to be an invaluable source of information and advice for the Spirit Show as it continues to thrive.

We spoke to Jeremy about his years of experience in hospitality, the history and future of the Spirit Show, and the top trends taking place in the spirits sector this year. 



Tell us about your background. Where did your eclectic career in catering and management begin and how do you bring that experience to the Spirit Show?

I was born into the hospitality industry, literally - my parents ran a club in south Wales and I spent the first 16 years of my life there. I moved to London when I was 18 and I went back into hospitality working in venues such as Wembley Stadium, Lords Cricket Ground, The Royal Festival Hall and then into hotels, working at Grosvenour House, The Grove, The Savoy and The Athenaeum in London.

Working in some of the top 5- star hotels in the capital, you get approached by all sorts of suppliers and there are many hospitality events you can attend. I noticed there was no real high-end spirit show where I could meet and get to know small batch producers, to get a proper understanding of their products as well as the larger suppliers. This is where the idea for the Spirit Show first started.

What can you tell about the creation of the Spirit Show in a nutshell, which celebrates some of the finest spirits and cocktails from around the world?

Over the last few years the Spirit Show has evolved from a tiny acorn of an idea. Now approaching its third edition, the show is growing into a mighty oak and is becoming a key date in the on-trade calendar!

The idea for the Spirit Show came from a discussion about launching a small-scale whiskey tasting event. However, a quick Google search showed that there were several well established shows and tasting events up and down the country. Through further research it became apparent that there were no exhibitions that focused purely on premium spirits and gave consumers the chance to try and buy from all spirit categories.

After the hugely successful launch edition, we undertook research amongst our exhibitors who informed us that they wanted to meet more trade buyers at the show, and not just the end consumer. So for the second edition we launched a trade-only session. The session was a success, with over 1000 members of the drinks and hospitality trade attending. This year we are taking it a step further and creating two shows in one! By day the show is targeted at trade buyers, then from late afternoon into the evening, the general public will be able to attend - thus giving our exhibitors a unique opportunity to meet trade and general public all under one roof.

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We understand you expect over 7000 visitors to the show this year; what suppliers, buyers and influencers have attended in previous years?

Previously the show has welcomed decision-makers from the likes of Waitrose, Tesco, Gaucho, M&S, Mahiki and The Ivy to name a few.  Visitors know that they can source new products at our show that they’re not likely to see anywhere else. The show has been used as a backdrop for new product launches from independent distillers, as well as now attracting key distributors such as Cellar Trends, Hi-Spirits, Brown Forman and so on.

What is your main objective for the show in 2018?

Our main objective for this year is simple – to cement us as a must-attend event for trade buyers. Having evolved over the last couple of years from a pure consumer-led show, this is the year where we ensure that we’re a credible show for the trade too.

Are there any trends from last year's show and wider spirit trends that you expect to continue in 2018, or will there be any big changes?

One of the big trends we’re seeing this year is the growth of low/no alcohol spirits, as well as the proliferation of new mixer brands.  Consumers are more conscious than ever of what they’re putting in their bodies and the ethical ramifications. This is evidenced by the vegan trend. Consumers are also becoming more adventurous in the tastes and actively seek out new brands!

What would you say your clientele are looking for this year? How do you expect to deliver that?

As in previous years, our visitors are looking for products that they can’t try elsewhere. The show brings together in excess of 200 products, many of which are new on the market, giving both trade buyers and the general public a unique opportunity to sample them and place orders.

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What do you hope that the brand new Spirits Live feature will bring to this year's show?

This exciting new feature will form the focal point of the show, giving trade visitors the chance to hear more from the exhibiting brands, world class bar tenders and discover more about the latest trends in the spirits industry. A visitor’s time away from work is precious so this feature will give them the opportunity to learn new information that they can take back to their jobs and put in to practice.

Finally, do you have a favourite cocktail of your own?

A Rob Roy - which is scotch whisky based and topped with a cherry. 


If you're interested in attending the Spirit Show - you can register for your free trade pass at the button below. (Free entry is strictly for qualifying members of the drinks and hospitality industry.)

Register for the Spirit Show

Does reading this article makes you thirsty for your next event needs? To book Off to Work's fabulous cocktail bar team, contact Michael Rose at [email protected]

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