The London Competitions for Beers, Wines and Spirits has introduced a new global ambassador programme where it is giving leading sommeliers and wine buyers around the world the chance to help promote the awards in their respective countries whilst also sharing their experiences of what drinks trends are driving their local markets and how medal winners in the London Competitions can look to target local listings. As the clock ticks down for entries into the 2024 London Competitions (February 22) we feature three of the ambassadors based in Bangkok, the UAE and the UK.
The entry process for the 2024 London Competitions for wine, beers and spirits does not have long to go with a final date for entries on February 22. Here’s what its new Global Brand Ambassadors think make the awards the most relevant in the premium drinks industry.
Gauvrav Dixit, Global Brand Ambassador, Thailand
Gaurav Dixit is a hotelier with over 13 years of expertise working in a number of high end and luxury resorts and hotels including the Taj Hotels , The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts , and lebua Hotels and Resorts in Bangkok. Gaurav made the move to Thailand from his home in India having established himself as one of the country’s leading sommeliers with a number of sommelier awards under his belt.
He says he is delighted to be part of the ambassador programme as he sees his role working in the drinks industry as a chance to tell “compelling stories” about the brands he is selling and is particularly keen to work with products that have “rich histories that deserve to be shared”.
In his role as London Competitions Global Ambassador he will look to share his experiences with the awards team about what is happening in the premium drinks scene in Thailand and how he, in turn, can help amplify the profile and role of the awards in the country, particularly with New World wines that have a strong position in premium hotels and bars.
He says premium beers also work well with Thailand thanks to how well strong local and international brands like Singha and Chang have done, alongside locally crafted spirits such Mekhong whisky and rice-based liquors.
“Thailand’s alcoholic drinks culture is as diverse and spirited as the nation itself,” says Dixit. “Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Thailand, followed by spirits and wine.”
He says the key trends driving the market in Thailand are similar to those in other mature drinks markets like the rise in sustainable practices, the growing number of premium low-alcohol options and the rise in microbreweries,
He is particularly interested in the gin category and the “incredible versatility” it offers a premium bar and the “freedom” it gives them to “craft the perfect gin experience based on mood and occasion”.
He says he is happy to offer advice to brands looking to get more of a foothold in Thailand and stresses the importance of quality, consumer education, and having a strategic approach to your distribution and gaining market share.
“The London Competitions provide an invaluable platform for wine, beer and spirits brands globally. They also help brands build relationships with key professionals and can be a springboard for brands seeking international recognition and validation,” he says.
Jeet Verma, Global Brand Ambassador, UAE
Award-winning mixologist Jeet Verma joins London Competitions as Global Brand Ambassador for United Arab Emirates with the objective of raising the awards’ profile and reputation in this fast growing region with so many premium venues, bars, restaurants and hotels. He will also be able to advise the London Competition organisers and judges about the latest drinks trends in the UAE.
Verma has nearly 10 years experience working in a number of top end establishments starting out at ‘USHNA,’ a premium Indian restaurant in Abu Dhabi, before moving to ‘KOI,’ a renowned Japanese concept, and leading the beverage program at ‘Masti Cocktails & Cuisine in Dubai. He has recently joined LSL Capital in Dubai as beverage manager, overseeing ‘JAMAVAR & MIMI MEI FAIR.’
Verma’s expertise isn’t just in crafting unique cocktails, he’s also highly adept at integrating wellness into his beverage programs, focusing on sustainable practices and using natural ingredients. His accolades include being named “Bartender of the Year – 2020” by Caterer Middle East, and featuring in the Top-50 bartender power list by “Lyre’s.” He has participated in numerous prestigious mixologist competitions and has been a significant influencer in the UAE’s beverage scene.
The UAE has an evolving premium alcoholic drinks market, thanks, in part, to a significant expatriate population and the demand for diverse and sophisticated beverage offerings, including a growing trend towards health and wellness beverages and non-alcoholic cocktails.
Brands and producers looking to make their mark in the UAE need to understand the unique cultural sensitivities and legal landscape if they are to succeed, says Verma.
Verma believes the medal winning producers in the London Competitions have a great opportunity in the UAE as it gives them a platform with which to network, market and promote their brands and showcase their products and expertise.
Chelsie Bailey, Global Brand Ambassador of London Spirits Competition, UK
Chelsie Bailey as been chosen as the first Global Brand Ambassador for the London Spirits Competition as a reflection of the impact she has made as one of London’s leading bartenders and beverage directors over the last 18 years.
A career that has seen her run two of the world’s most celebrated bars in London: Happiness Forgets and the American Bar at Savoy. As a result she is at the forefront of the trends shaping the premium drinks and cocktail market and expects to see the rise in demand for agave-based drinks continue into 2024 with more artisan and exclusive premium tequila styles and celebrity-endorsed mezcal driving that section of the bar.
Given the choice then Bailey’s first love is rum and is a style of spirit she finds endlessly fascinating. But she has also become very close to the premium gin category, particularly its role in creating classic cocktails where her training and extensive knowledge of drinks and cocktails can really come to the fore.
For brands to do well in the competitive London and UK bar scene Bailey says they need to be committed to long term investment and be willing to adapt to market needs and invest in product and staff training. Here three key pieces of advice are: pay attention, be versatile, and invest wisely.
She also says producers need to be on top of what is happening in world-class bars all over the world as they indicate where market trends will go in the future.
When it comes to entering international markets, Chelsie’s advice echoes her insights into the UK market: The global recognition and industry credibility bestowed by the London Competitions Competitions, according to Chelsie, make it a must-enter arena for producers and brands. The competition’s expert judging panel ensures fair and accurate evaluations, providing a reliable platform for showcasing excellence and gaining valuable feedback.
Bailey believes what sets the London Competitions apart, particularly for spirits, is its commitment to recruiting and working with highly credible and knowledgeable judges who are all at the top of their game working in the trade. That’s what also makes it a great networking hub and a pivotal platform for brand recognition and promotion.
How to enter 2024 Competitions
The entry process for the London Wine, Beer and Spirits Competitions ends on February 22. Here’s how to enter: