Hooch - the controversial drink that started the alcopop revolution - has been axed by Coors Brewers.

Launched in 1995 as Hooper’s Hooch, it was the first RTD brand to hit the UK but has failed to maintain its presence in a shrinking market.

Coors, which has not recently invested in Hooch, said it took the decision to “focus 100%” on its successful RTD brand Reef.

Brand director Warren Langley said: “Hooch has been a phenomenal success, and set the ball rolling for the whole category back in June 1995.

“Today the Coors’ team is focused on Reef, which has enjoyed a fantastic performance in 2003 having been the fastest
growing major RTD in every four week period in multiple grocers.”

Other milestones in Hooch’s life included the launch of a Light variant which was credited as the first low calorie RTD. The brand was also the first RTD to appear on TV in an ad fronted by comedian Paul Kaye. But Hooch was more often associated with negative publicity and widely condemned as the catalyst of under-age drinking.

Despite being dogged by controversy, two million bottles of the lemon, orange and blackcurrant variants were sold each week at the peak of its popularity in 1998. But a year later, sales tailed off and Hooch lost 20% of its market share.

Last year, the brand’s sales nosedived by 66%, although it was still one of the top 10 selling RTDs, at number eight in February this year.

Latterly, Coors has been content to position Hooch as a value RTD brand with the multiples dropping their listings and the bulk of its sales being made through independents. Sainsbury’s RTD buyer, Henry Stephenson, said: “This shows how fashion-led the market is. Only Smirnoff Ice has currently done the work it needs to survive long term.”
Rosie Davenport