Put the lime in the coconut

Distilled spirits have been showing steady growth, practically in the past seven years, and according to the Distilled Spirits Council, supplier sales for spirits increased 4.5% to $25.2 billion, with volumes up 2.4% to 220 million cases in 2016. The alcohol industry sector as a whole has an expected revenue growth rate of 3.03% for 2017, and according to CSI MarketConstellation Brands Inc. (STZ), a beverage company specializing in premium wines, imported beer brands and spirits, it has outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 10%, 17.7% to 6.6%, year-over-year at the end of Q3 2016 and has a five-year average revenue growth of 14.47%. 

Indeed, an increase in cocktail culture and young adult consumers’ taste for and interest in premium-distilled spirits is helping drive this trend. Focus has also shifted toward anticipation over innovation, premiumization and access to greater selections than ever before. 

Upstart boutique spirits company Mesh & Bone is dedicated to seeking out and discovering hidden gems from around the world. Mesh & Bone’s Arakku is the only one of its kind available in the United States. It is distilled and fermented from hand-harvested coconut flower sap in Sri Lanka, where the spirit is aged 15 years in halmilla hardwood barrels — lengthy barrel aging gives it the richness and complexity of a pleasantly aged rum or smooth whisky (see “How it’s made,” below).

Reminiscence of a whiskey-rum crossover makes Arakku ideal for consumers who like whisky but may have left the category because of the burn. It’s also for those who want a rum-like spirit without the sweetness. Arakku can be enjoyed on the rocks, in cocktails or served straight.

Scott Crist, former venture capitalist and Fortune 500 brand manager and founder and owner of Mesh & Bone says it was during a coworker’s wedding in Colombo, Sri Lanka, when he first heard of Arakku.

“Everyone was drinking this drink on the rocks, sort of like you would a scotch, but I had no idea what it was,” says Crist, who was on the lookout for a product addition for Mesh & Bone, the rare spirits line he launched this August 2016 in Chicago. “When they told me about it; that it was this ancient spirit and had never before made its way to the U.S., I had to learn more.”

The current Mesh & Bone portfolio includes four signature spirits: Sotol ($44) from the deserts of Chihuahua, Mexico, is a tequila-like spirit but with less bite, smooth with a grassy aroma; Shochu ($30) from the Japanese island of Kyushu is akin to vodka yet has a much more layered flavor distilled from barley; Cidre, or cider ($15), is Champagne-like made from naturally fermented apples and pears in Brittany, France; and Arakku ($32), a golden brown noteworthy spirit from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Mesh & Bone spirits are available at ezras.com.

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