By Rob Allanson

A brand new start

Time to take stock of life again
Well here we are, hurtling not just into a new year but also into an entirely new decade, and what a start it has been, with the heartbreaking scenes from Australia, unending political tensions and more warning that we are continually crossing the line in our stewardship of our planet.
When you think about it we are all attached to this rock that is spinning through space and for my mind, for what it’s worth, I always find it odd that our leaders, having our bests interests at heart apparently, don’t listen to each other; let alone to an impassioned speech by an inspiring teenager.

In the Western calendar, the turn of the year is a moment to start again, reflect on the year that has been and make changes, usually for the better. A recent poll by IPSOS and brewer Heineken found that 50 per cent of people in the UK are claiming that they are moderating their alcohol consumption in this new year.

I think it is good to be reminded to take a break and be mindful of our bodies and souls.

Of course you can use statistics to prove anything. But I have waffled on about the joys and benefits of an abstemious lifestyle many times and no matter what the survey sample, it is heartening to see more people take on the challenge to go just a month without the drink. You could argue that this isn’t really giving something up, more taking on a healthier side of life.

To be honest, in the world that we dear reader move in, where whisky is available constantly and there is always something new to try, I think it is good to be reminded to take a break and be mindful of our bodies and souls. That waking up with a head like a church bell on Sunday morning might be great once in a while, but the morning of a deadline or big meeting is just reckless. I am not preaching I promise, just acutely aware that it’s a fine line, especially in the industry, between enjoyment and having an issue.

But I digress a little. It seems it is not just the public picking up on this trend. More than 50 per cent of influential bartenders who were surveyed in the same poll say they believe the no- and low-abv trend will grow in the next 12 months. You can actually back this up yourselves. Some places I have been to in the United Kingdom are now offering separate non-alcoholic menus. If you really want to see the cutting edge of non-alcoholic drinks, that offer flavour, not just sweetness and lurid colours, check out a bar like Dublin’s The Virgin Mary. The complexity and impressiveness of the drinks here has to be experienced.

In other new year’s news, the looming threat of tariffs between the USA and EU looks set to rattle on. Alcohol trade groups in the States are lobbying hard to end the impositions.

Up to 78,600 US jobs could ultimately be lost if these tariffs remain in effect or are increased

In a recent statement, analysis by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States states that US jobs have been eliminated and hiring halted due to the current US tariff on certain EU distilled spirits and wines, and up to 78,600 US jobs could ultimately be lost if these tariffs remain in effect or are increased.

The same report showed that American whiskey exports to the EU have declined 29 per cent between January 2019 and November 2019 compared to the same period in 2018; American spirits exports to Turkey declined 42 per cent in the same period; and American spirits exports to China declined eight per cent in that time, after 45 per cent growth in 2018 and 160 per cent growth since 2010.

These figures are certainly alarming, and the continuing impact of the trade wars is a scary thing to predict, especially as the UK prepares to honour its pledge and go EU-free.

Even if you are in the middle of dry January, it might be time to start stashing bottles of your favourites from both sides of the Atlantic.