Talking exclusively with BeverageDaily.com, Matt Djokovic, innovation director, Bacardi-Martini Asia Pacific, said: “This is a breakthrough in the world of spirits."
"The spirit is crafted with only two ingredients: high quality green tea leaves and the finest spring water from France - to deliver a delicious and unique taste. All the flavors and complex properties of the spirit come from the raw ingredients.”
The distillation process releases complex sugars from tea leaves and transforms them into a fermentable form, resulting in an aromatic compound that forms the essence of the spirit.
This is then concentrated and blended in different fractions to retain only the most pleasant and intense flavors. The resultant liquid is combined with spring water to produce a complex spirit.
Djokovic said that this distillation process, which is completely untainted by any additives, preservatives or sugar, is what sets TANG apart from other green tea spirits.
A neat meal accompaniment
Described as having “a distinctive aroma and robust tea flavor”, the liquor can cut through crease and enhance the taste of Cantonese and fusion dishes that are light and flavorful, according to Bacardi.
The drinks giant hopes this will enable TANG to capitalize on a market opportunity it has spotted for spirits that can be paired with food.
“Today the types of spirits that can be enjoyed with food are fairly limited. We hope TANG can represent an additional spirit option to enjoy during Chinese meals,” said Djokovic.
Explaining how this fits with Bacardi’s overall business strategy, he said: “TANG is a fantastic complement to our existing portfolio as it is a product with the potential to unlock new occasions and therefore, a source of incremental growth.”
Chasing the Chinese yuan
Bacardi’s tea spirit will initially target the Chinese market - currently a key focus for the company -via the travel-retail and restaurant channels.
“China and Asia Pacific is a very important region for Bacardi’s business. We have seen strong performance in our key APAC markets, in particular China, and expect that to continue,” said Djokovic.
The spirit launched last Thursday [19 March] in Hong Kong DFS (duty free shops), with the first 500 bottles individually numbered.
From May 2015, it will be rolled out into select partner restaurants in China where it will be served in heavy crystal cut glassware on a tray with a centre piece black metallic lantern that encloses the illuminated bottle, reinforcing its luxury credentials.
Bacardi hopes TANG will appeal to “the ultra premium drinker with a progressive mindset who is in search of new experiences in dining and other occasions”.
Whilst the initial launch is aimed at Chinese consumers who match this profile, Djokovic confirmed that expansion into other markets was part of the long term plan.
“Right now, we are focused on reaching out to this consumer in China, both on his travels and in the domestic market, and educating him about TANG," he said.
"That said, TANG has been developed with the global market in mind. Hence, when the time is right we will look to broaden distribution beyond China."