The zeitgeist of ‘Ready To Drink Cocktails’ & my own journey to fulfill a need I’ve always had.

Sheki ‘Untamed Cherry’ — A celebration of cherry appreciated by millions in Turkey

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It is actually pure mathematics.

For September and October Well, more mathematics.2020, Tequila was up 55.5%, Cognac grew by 56.2% and RTDs rose by 131%.” (Source.)

The easing of lockdown rules in the UK — coupled with sunny weather — led to a 86% spike in RTD sales at the end of May, with consumers seeking impulse options for socializing outdoors. Sales of these drinks through the convenience sector grew by 154%.(Source.)

You know what else? Even more mathematics.

“The RTD alcoholic beverages market in Europe was valued at US$ 4,927. 2 million in 2018 and is projected to reach US$ 7,452. 1 million by 2027; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4. 8% from 2019–2027. The increasing demand for RTD alcoholic beverages in the UK, Italy, Germany, and Finland is anticipated to propel the market growth in Europe.” (Source.)

These data are important because they imply one thing: the RTD segment is growing rapidly and soon to take over some of the other liquor segments in the market. We have been following this data and our own gut to create a product that will meet the need.

“According to CGA Mixed Drinks Q3 2019 UK data, 54% of consumers purchased pre-mixed drinks and 46% drink either non-alcoholic or low-ABV cocktails. Furthermore, the research found that the most popular taste profiles in the on- and off-trade are: refreshing, berry, citrus, fruity, sweet and fizzy.” (Source.)

So, we created Sheki.

But, can we explain why you should keep this product in your inventory solely by mathematics?

Of course not, here is a personal story of what underlies these numbers and a reflection on my generation and our drinking habits.

The story goes back to when I was at the university.

I got into the university as one of the top 500 highest-ranking students in my country. The scholarship I got covered my accommodation with a dorm room, gave me a monthly allowance for food, covered most of my book costs, and even covered a trip to Liverpool in summer. What else could I want?

It was a well-thought choice because later along the road me & my family bumped into an unfortunate financial collapse. I had to do part-time jobs, support my family as much as I could and also keep my morale up. Keeping my morale up mattered because I had to be more tenacious towards my goals. To have that kind of energy, you need motivation so I decided not to cut down on my social life. Don’t get me wrong, I CUT DOWN ON EVERYTHING. But I still did drink beer and shared a small bottle of vodka or rakı with friends when I went to house parties and I did go to house/flat parties a lot.

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Sheki “Blueberry Nights” — One of the top sellers
House Party Scene In Istanbul

A house party has always been my favorite choice of activity with a group of friends & strangers unless there is a crazy concert in town. Even then, pre-drinks at home was a good choice. I found it to be more intimate, it seemed more fun & interesting than a club. You could at least conversate.

It was pretty common in Istanbul because every passing year the taxes on alcohol were rising so drinking at a bar was pricy and also flat parties offered a better atmosphere for pre-drinks simply because there weren’t so many ‘cozy’ bars. These 2 factors made Istanbul a ‘hub’ for flat parties.

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Another vodka & beer duo. Parties were fine, booze wasn’t.

‘‘House party’’ as a concept has such different walks of life in different societies that one can’t help but respect the joy of people coming together to chat, to drink, and to network.

In Soviet Union, for instance, this concept helped many Soviets gather at ‘dachas’ (sort of a getaway weekend house nearby the city, mostly in the woods) over the weekend to avoid censorship, discuss politics, listen to Beatles if they wanted to and throw concerts, too. It was, some would say, a way out from the routineness of the Soviet life. A social survival medi-kit.

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Sheki Lemon
In the West, on the other hand, it has been a good alternative to outdoor partying.

Did you want to meet someone new? A house party is a perfect place. Did you want to warm up and get tipsy before the big night out? You could bring your own booze to a house party. Wanted to relax over some nice tunes? A house concert will do the trick.

There is a very simple yet significant reason house parties are here to stay:

Bars & clubs are too loud to communicate and millennials are not as wealthy as their parents anymore to afford every night out.

A Netflix, Uber Eats, Spotify, and Tinder subscription gets you ‘more’ than a fancy cocktail in a bar & club and costs pretty much the same. In a world where most millennials can hardly make the ends meet, going to a restaurant, bar and club are becoming their last resort.

I, going through that hardship myself then at the university, can tell from firsthand experience. I wanted to be sociable. I wanted to go out and have fun but it wasn’t always economical to buy drinks. Also, there wasn’t a drink that could meet my needs, I needed a drink that had to have 4 traits:

  1. Not expensive. (See below chart.)
  2. Tasty. (Being a student or millennial doesn’t mean give up on quality.)
  3. With an ideal alcohol rate enough to get me tipsy and not drunk so I can survive the rest of the night. (Sustainability matters!)
  4. Shouldn’t drag me to the bathroom every 10 minutes. (Beer. I.Hated.You.Every time.)
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Millennials Need Quality at Affordable Prices

RTD beverages, if executed well, bridge the gap between a premium experience and convenience, so they’re a preferred choice for many consumers. Consumers do not need to buy an entire bottle of Campari (which produces its own bottled cocktail) to make a Negroni or make their own simple syrup for a Margarita or Old Fashioned.

So that begs the question: Why Us and Sheki?
Sheki is refreshing, has many berry & citrus flavors, is fruity, sweet, and fizzy.
Cosmopolitan (Women’s Favorite), Apple and Wild Berries
Unlike some of its competitors, Sheki is actually made of %100 wine. So, it’s healthier. Also, our glass bottles are %100 recyclable, making Sheki more eco-friendly.

From left to right: Energy Crisis, Lime & Mint, and Mango Crush
There are 12 flavors of Sheki. This is backed by a dedicated & passionate team and an R&D department with the latest equipment in the wine industry. We boast about our quality certificates and extravagance on R&D. Here are just some of them.

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Anton Paar Lyza 5000 Wine — Receive results for more than 40 parameters for wine and must include ethanol, sugars, and acid profile in a single measurement IN LESS THAN ONE MINUTE. This allows us to react fast for mass production. (We are a 5 million liters/year capacity plant.)

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Shimadzu UV-Visible Spectroscopy for molecular absorption quantitative analysis, the UV-1280 Multipurpose UV-Visible Spectrophotometer offers wavelength scanning from 190–1100 nm. This high-quality instrument is ideal for applications ranging from routine environmental and food quality testing to our wine analysis etc. total phenols and anthocyanin.

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Shimadzu GC-MS QP 2020 NX Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer — The role of high-performance analytical instruments is expanding in areas as diverse as environmental pollution monitoring, forensics, and material science. With GC/MS, which has significant qualitative capabilities, a wealth of fragment information is obtained, so it is used as a means of identifying unknown compounds. A mass spectral library is generally used as a means of compound identification.

With the GCMS-QP2020 NX, in addition to the mass spectrum, three kinds of value-added compound information are used in combination to support high-accuracy qualitative analysis. This system combines GC-MS with a database of major odor-causing substances and sensory information (types of smells and odor thresholds). It provides the total solution required for off-flavor analysis.

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Some of our quality certificates
Track record of 1 million bottles of sales in Turkey during the pandemic. Projections for 2021: 2 million bottles domestically.
Also, we are launching new products as we move on. The following ones are targeting the millennials specifically. Bubble Gum takes us back to the 90s and honey & chili (not for the timid) are specifically for drinking games.
From left to right: Sheki Bubble Gum, Big Red Watermelon, Honey & Chili
Long story short, we expect Sheki to be a rockstar of wine-based RTD cocktails in the world.
Do you want to be a part of the story?

Feel free to reach out to us: 

contact@akbergwines.com

Cheers!

Güney Köse

Akberg Wines CEO

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