Waitrose announces London festival

Following the success of its inaugural event last September, Waitrose has announced the launch of its second Drinks Festival.

To be held at County Hall in London from November 17 to November 19, the event is expected to attract up to 4,000 consumers to sample wines, beers, spirits and speciality food from more than 200 of the supermarket chain’s producers. Confirmed suppliers with stands at the show include Pedrino, Sipsmith, Peroni, Les Dauphins, Masi and Catena.

There will be themed rooms dedicated to each product category, plus rooms dedicated to cider, beer, dark spirits and light spirits. The festival will also feature masterclasses, workshops and Waitrose Cookery School demonstrations.

Masterclasses will include Guigal, Chateau Musar, Masi, Graham’s Port, Catena Malbec, The Chocolate Block, Asian Whiskies, Sipsmith, Hayman’s Gin, Wines of Rioja, Altos Las Hormigas, There’s a Beer For That, Yealands and Brooklyn Lager.

Back by popular demand is the ‘make your own gin’ workshop with distiller Audemus, where customers can make their own gin to be judged by an expert panel. The winning gin from last year’s masterclass is now available online at www.waitrosecellar.com. There will also be a ‘blend your own whisky’ class with Glenfiddich.

New for 2017 is an exclusive lounge, with drinks personalities making appearances and giving talks throughout the weekend. Lounge customers will also be able to attend personalised wine walks with the Waitrose wine buying team.

The website for booking tickets in now live at waitrosedrinksfestival.com. Tickets are £25 per session until September 30, and £30 thereafter, with an additional cost for masterclasses and workshops.

Meanwhile, total sales excluding fuel at Waitrose for last week (to Saturday September 23) were up 2.8% on last year, with a half price event and marketing campaign centred around the its cut-price ‘essential Waitrose’ range driving volume. ‘Essential Waitrose’ Success stories included croissant sales which soared 232%, baked beans (up 142%) and fish fingers (up 95%).

Away from the essential Waitrose range, promotions on rum and gin contributed to spirit sales rising by 24%.

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