Absolut Will Launch Pear-Flavored Vodka

Absolut Vodka is launching Absolut Pear in January, banking on the flavor becoming a 2007 trendsetter in fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages.

"We constantly have 'flavorists' on the hunt for all the new scents, flavors and tastes, and pear was ripe for us," said Jeffrey Moran, spokesperson for The Absolut Spirits Co.

Since the introduction 20 years ago of its first flavored vodka, Absolut Peppar, the company has rolled out numerous fruit- and flavor variations, including Citron, Vanilia, Mandrin and APeach.

The Absolut Pear bottle design incorporates the shape of a pear. It will launch with a print campaign featuring a green snake wrapped around an Absolut Pear bottle with the tagline "The New Temptation."

Kathy Casey of Kathy Casey Food Studios in Seattle said pear usage in cocktails is one of the coming trends. "Consumers are looking for drinks that are well-balanced--not too strong in liquor and not too sweet or sour," she said. "The pear's mellow sweetness adds a fantastic flavor counterpoint to the mojito, one of today's most popular cocktails."

Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor's ProductScan, said pear juice, like grape juice, is often used to cut sugary or tart flavors. "It's a neutral flavoring," he said. But pear has yet to crack the Top 5 flavors used in liqueurs and alcoholic beverages, he said. Lime/orange (tied) is first, followed by apple/citrus/strawberry (tied), lemon, peach, mango and then pear.

The flavor of pear is big in Europe, Verhile said, which may account for its encroachment across the pond. He cited Anheuser-Busch's Peels Beverage Co., which this year introduced Peels premium malt beverage in blueberry pomegranate, strawberry passion fruit, cranberry peach and pear lemon. Verhile added that pomegranate, perhaps because it has the color of red wine, has been a player this year.

Pear-flavored brandy has been around a while. In Oregon, Clear Creek Distillery won the Double Gold Medal at the 2000 San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its eau de vie de poire. In addition to its pear brandy, Clear Creek also does a special Pear-in-the-Bottle--actually growing the fruit inside the bottle and then filling it with pear eau-de-vie. Talk about your limited time offering: since the nature of pear growth is unpredictable, the distillery said that $80 item is available only in certain years.