Hard seltzers – or ‘spiked’ sparkling waters – have taken the US booze market by storm in recent years. Now the craze is picking up speed in the UK, with startups, major brands and even some retailers launching their own versions. We take a look at the products available.
The launch of Kopparberg spinoff brand Balans in January 2019 marked the first move outside of cider for the booze giant. The pair of ‘aqua spritz’ drinks – in Lime and Mandarin flavours – first launched into Asda and have since rolled out to Tesco (rsp: £1.70/250ml).
Like most American hard seltzers such as White Claw, UK startup Drty uses fermented fruit to create the alcohol base for its drinks. Its two flavours, Raspberry Rosé and White Citrus, first launched into Ocado, Amazon and 31Dover in October 2019 (rsp: £2.20/330ml). They are now stocked in convenience stores across the country and in retailers such as Daylesford, Whole Foods and Simply Fresh in the capital.
Mike’s made its UK debut in November 2019 when it launched into the convenience channel. The brand is now listed in Tesco and Morrisons (rsp: £1.99/330ml) and cases of the 5% abv seltzers – which come in Lemon, Lime and Black Cherry – are available to buy online.
First listed as a trial in Sainsbury’s Taste of the Future bays in December 2019, startup brand Bodega Bay is now a permanent feature at Sainsbury’s and Morrisons (rsp: £2/250ml). Offering two flavours – Apple with Ginger & Açai Berry and Elderflower with Lemon & Mint – the brand recently landed a distribution deal with booze giant Molson Coors, which plans to roll it out across the rest of the mults and convenience.
Following a soft launch in February, London brand Sence now sells a five-strong range via its online store. The 4.5% abv drinks, which come in Lemon Lime, Mango, Raspberry, Black Cherry and Pure variants, are sold in four, 10 or 12-can packs (rsp: £7.95-£18.95). As well as becoming a drinks partner of WW at the end of May, Sence recently signed a deal with Co-op supplier Enterprise and has been in talks with Tesco.
Currently “in active conversations with a number of retailers” about potential listings, Natrl hard seltzers contain alcohol made from fermented sugar beet. The brand sells cases of its two flavours – Peach & Raspberry and Lemon & Lime – through its online store (rsp: £24.95/12x250ml).
Officially launched in April, Island Bay is now stocked in independents and convenience stores across the country, including Best-One, Spar and Nisa (rsp: £1.90/250ml). Available in Watermelon, Mango and Strawberry flavours, the drinks boast vegan, gluten-free and keto-friendly credentials.
A duo of bottled hard seltzers from Sparkl were first announced last year and came to market in April. The drinks come in Lemon, Ginger & Chilli and Peach & Rose flavours and are stocked nationwide in Morrisons (rsp: £2.50/330ml). They are also available to buy in bulk from the brand’s online store (rsp: £30/12x330ml).
Strengthening its presence in the hard seltzer market – it launched spin-off brand Balans in 2019 – a branded trio from Kopparberg hit stores in May. Available in Mixed Berries, Black Cherry and Passionfruit flavours, the drinks are made with the brand’s trademarked ‘KopparSpirit’, an alcohol base which leaves behind no residual sugar. Kopparberg says the drinks, which are available in Tesco and Morrisons (rsp: £2.20/330ml), deliver “a far fuller flavour to anything currently available on the UK hard seltzer market”.
Clean & Press
Craft beer giant BrewDog made the move into seltzers in May with the launch of Clean & Press. Featuring four flavours – Kiwi & Passionfruit, Cactus & Lime, Crushed Black Cherry and White Peach & Mango – the range uses BrewDog’s Rogue Wave vodka as a base. The Crushed Black Cherry and White Peach & Mango variants are available to buy direct from the brewer’s online store (rsp: £30/12x330ml).
Hard seltzer purists look away now, because wine brand Barefoot has launched its own take on the drink. Where seltzers are traditionally made by combining sparkling water with a base spirit, this duo uses white wine and natural fruit flavours. Launched into Tesco in May, the drinks are available in Pineapple & Passionfruit and Strawberry & Guava flavours (rsp: £1.80/250ml).
If any brand could be said to have sparked the hard seltzer craze, it’s White Claw. The US sensation, which bills itself as a ‘spiked’ sparkling water, has gained a cult following across the pond and now, after months of speculation, it has hit the UK too. The brand launched into Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons at the start of the month, marking its first venture outside of the US and Canada. The drinks are available in 330ml cans and feature Raspberry, Natural Lime and Black Cherry flavours (rsp: £2.50).
Framed as “a lighter-calorie option to wine and beer”, a pair of hard seltzers from Smirnoff rolled into Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose in June (rsp: £1.80/250ml). The Raspberry & Rhubarb and Orange & Grapefruit drinks are made with Smirnoff’s No.21 Premium Vodka, combined with sparkling water and natural fruit flavours. They contain 72 calories per can.
Founded by brother and sister team Fabio and Francesca Bruni, Two Brooks launched its three-strong range on its online store this month. The brand offers three flavours – Lime Cooler, Passion Star and Mango Hi-Ball – and sells in cases of 12 (rsp: £29.99/12x250ml). The drinks are also set to launch on Amazon.
Aldi has jumped on the bandwagon with its own take on White Claw, called Nordic Wolf. The own-brand range, which features Lemon, Strawberry & Lime, Cranberry & Cherry and Raspberry & Blackcurrant flavours, is set to hit shelves in mid-July. The 4% abv drinks will retail at £1.29 per 330ml can, just under half Tesco’s £2.50 price for White Claw.
The British Honey Company is expanding its Keepr’s spirits brand with a range of “premium” hard seltzers, which come in Pear & Ginger, Pomegranate & Rose and Passionfruit & Elderflower flavours. The drinks are made with a potato vodka base and 100% natural ingredients, including a hint of British honey from the company’s own hives. Single and mixed flavour cases can be purchased at the brand’s online store and through Amazon (rsp: £2.75/250ml).
Set to launch initially into Selfridges on 22 July, Served hard seltzer is made from British sparkling water and ‘wonky’ fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste (rsp: £2.50/250ml). Available in Lime and Raspberry flavours, Served has recived financial backing from Seedlip investors Mike Branson and Jonathan Ford, Dash Water investor Bradley Berman and CrowdCube founder and CEO Darren Westlake. The drinks will go live on the brand’s online store in August.
Herefordshire spirit maker Chase Distillery announced in July that it would be jumping on the craze with a trio of gin seltzers. Each of the drinks, which come in Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo, Seville Orange and London Dry & Lemon flavours, will feature one of the distiller’s bestselling craft gins mixed with sparkling water. The are available to buy on the brand’s website as a trio (rsp: £7.50/3x250ml) or case of 12 (rsp: £30/12x250ml).
Aimed at shoppers who want to moderate their alcohol consumption, Echo Falls’ range of Rosé Seltzers features Blueberry & Hibiscus, Strawberry & Pink Pepper and Raspberry, Lychee & Rose variants (rsp: £2/250ml). The trio launches into supermarkets and convenience stores from August.