WITH the myriad of hard seltzers on the market, it takes a lot to stand out. A hard seltzer is a drink made from lightly-flavoured carbonated water but spiked with alcohol. Its rise in the global beverage industry has been nothing short of phenomenal and, while initial uptake was slow, South Africa is fast catching up to the curve.
According to the IWSR (the leading source of data and intelligence on the global alcoholic beverage market), not only did ready-to-drinks (RTDs, which includes the hard seltzer category) post-double-digit global growth in 2020 (+26.4%), it was the only beverage alcohol category to grow at all during the Covid crisis. The IWSR projects that RTD volume will increase by +26.6% in 2021 and +10.2% compounded between 2021-2025, A large segment of that market are drinkers in search of a healthier, low-calorie alternative.
Typically, most hard seltzers are made with white spirits such as vodka and gin, with the alcoholic content (abv) usually between 3 – 6% and around 418 kilojoules per can. Among the flavours and choices out there, here are three favourites.
In the first quarter of 2021, Distell relaunched Vawter – a range of soda water spirit coolers made with vodka and infused natural fruit flavours. This drink is low in sugar and alcohol content (3.5%) and the range includes three delicious and refreshing natural flavours — juicy grapefruit, refreshing cucumber as well as zesty lemon and lime.
The Skinny range from Cheeky RTD falls somewhere between a ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail and hard seltzer, containing 4% alcohol and between 322 and 330 kilojoules. It’s made with real lime juice, which gives it a cloudy look. The range includes the flagship Skinny B – the internationally celebrated mix of premium vodka, real lime and soda; the Skinny M – a crisp mix of premium tequila, real lime and soda and the Skinny G, a refreshing alternative to a classic G&T, featuring gin, real lime and soda. A big drawcard – all three offerings are free of artificial sweeteners and flavourings.
The first flavoured beer to be produced locally was Flying Fish, launched by South African Breweries (SAB) in late 2013. This year, in April, it launched a hard seltzer range under the same name. Made with water, alcohol, fine bubbles and a dash of fruit juice, the 5.5% abv drink comes in a 300ml slim can with two flavour options — lemon and lime, and raspberry. Both drinks contain 1.5g of sugar and 481 kilojoules per can.