Spiked seltzers are the new hotness, and here in Richmond Belle Isle Moonshine is bringing these canned cocktails to the people.
Cracking open a cold one has taken on a new meaning during the canned cocktail craze. Happy hours and pool days are no longer restricted to hoppy beers, and are now inundated with spiked seltzers — also known as canned cocktails. This fad is no stranger to Richmond, and now local distillery Belle Isle Moonshine is making a space for itself in the spiked seltzer market. Enter Shine & Soda.
Belle Isle Moonshine’s mission has always been to make enjoying a delicious cocktail easier. In the few years since the distillery began crafting its signature Black Label moonshine, founders Vince Riggi and Brian Marks have developed a brand that does just this. Now, after creating the tried-and-true original, Riggi and Marks have made cocktail creation even more accessible for consumers through the creation of all-natural infusions.
Infusion crowd favorites have included Ruby Red Grapefruit and Blood Orange — each of which became accessible in a pop-top can on October 1.
“We want to create consumer success,” Riggi said. “The natural evolution. And really what we wanted to accomplish was ‘Let’s get it even closer. Let’s put the cocktail in a can. Let’s get to the final mile of that consumer experience and really just make it ready to drink.’”
Reaching that final mile has been a long time coming. Although Belle Isle founders have been dreaming of this launch for years now, it wasn’t until this year that Virginia State law allowed distilleries to produce canned cocktails.
For all of the loyal White Claw and Truly fans out there, Belle Isle brings a few new factors to the table: all natural, organic ingredients with a local appeal.
“The hope is that the local community will rally around a local brand, embrace it, and choose it over a big national brand,” Riggi said. “But at the end of the day, consumers will do what makes them happy, and what they enjoy. If that means sticking with their tried and true brand, that’s their right.”
Although the launch of Belle Isle Moonshine canned cocktails is starting in Virginia for 2019, Riggi has big plans for 2020. Since partnering with Breakthrough Beverage here in the state, they’ve been able to cover the majority of the state restaurants, bars and retailers.
Belle Isle Moonshine currently is sold in 15 states, so 2020 could prove to be a big year for their canned cocktails.
“The excitement over the last couple of months and even weeks has really gotten our team outside of Virginia excited to add the canned cocktails to their portfolios,” Riggi said.
With the launch on October 1, consumers are able to pick up Ruby Red & Soda, Blood Orange & Soda, and Shine & Soda at their favorite local groceries, such as Ellwood Thompson’s and Total Wine. There are more flavors to come in the future, including ones that might spice up your life. They’re not going to stop at just these three, Riggi said, and a Honey Habanero and soda could launch in 2020.
“We’re just trying to provide something that tastes better, is healthier, uses all natural ingredients and has a local appeal to it,” Riggi said. “We’re super proud of what we’re putting on the market and excited to see the feedback we get here moving forward.”
As Belle Isle Moonshine has continued to grow, Riggi reflected on the inception of the brand and who helped the brand excel.
“Without our bartender friends, without the network and the bartender family throughout Richmond and outside Richmond, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Riggi said. “For us, retail is super important, but restaurants are going to be very much a focus moving forward.”
Belle Isle’s canned cocktails hit the shelves in packs of four on October 1, ranging in price from $11 to $12 depending on the retailer.
Photos courtesy Belle Isle Moonshine