Harveys are making the latest attempt to kick-start the sluggish sherry industry with a new orange-flavoured offering.

Harveys Orange, a blend of Bristol Cream with ‘natural orange aromas’ to be served cold or over ice, was launched last Tuesday in Jerez.

The drink, designed to appeal to women aged 35 and over, is a version of a recipe that Harveys created for Bristol Cream in the mid-1990s: serve it over ice with a slice of orange.

Harveys Orange comes in a blue bottle like its stablemate Bristol Cream, but it is not a sherry, so there is no official stamp from the Consejo Regulador. It is launched next month in the UK at around £7. The US launch follows later in 2006.

Critical reception has been good so far, with journalists praising its subtle aromas.

Technical director Beltrán Domecq said, ‘We hope it will draw in new and lapsed consumers, and lead them back to Bristol Cream,’ and marketing director Drew Munro hoped the ‘new and exciting’ drink would ‘re-energise the category.’

How successful this will be is a moot point. Sherry sales in the UK, after being in freefall for years, are beginning to recover. ‘You could say the category is re-shaping itself,’ Nick Dumergue, speaking for the Sherry Institute, says.

Fino is on the up, led by Gonzalez Byass and its brand Tio Pepe’s massive spending on sponsorship of shows like Gordon Ramsay’s The F-Word, Hell’s Kitchen, and the London Restaurant Awards. Harveys own just-launched Fino had a positive reception.

Of course, Dumergue says, prices have climbed as a result of the advertising spend, and Sherry still has an indelibly old-fashioned image: cream sherries, led by Harveys Bristol Cream and Old Croft, account for 40% of sales.

That image is the drink’s bugbear. Sherry enthusiast Martin Lam of Ransome’s Dock restaurant in London recently told UK trade journal Harpers, ‘It still doesn’t tend to be the first choice for anyone under 60.’

Bristol Cream was the first cream Sherry, launched in 1886. Harveys Orange is the first new product since Harveys was acquired by Beam Wine Estates, a division of Fortune Brands, a year ago. The company is planning further activity to strengthen its holdings around Bristol Cream. This includes launching age-dated Sherries, in the VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry) category.

Written by Sarah Jane Evans, and Adam Lechmere