Diageo is continuing to focus on innovation with a number of new products that target local markets, including a "lighter style" American whiskey, orange-infused ‘spirit drink’, a liqueur made with whisky and fruit, and a Baileys line extension that does not require ice.Speaking at an event in London yesterday (2 July), Michael Ward, Diageo’s global head of innovation, said innovation is an “increasing area of focus” for the group, with an aim to “recruit, re-recruit and disrupt”. The London-based firm has quietly launched a number of new products in recent months, but since they target particular markets, did not announce them globally. Diageo has expanded its footprint in American whiskey with the launch of Cascade Blonde, said to be a “lighter style” blend that “celebrates outdoor living” in the US, according to Ward. The whiskey targets daytime drinking occasions with its “sweeter, mixable” profile. “It has taken off much faster than we expected and so we are being thoughtful about where we launch it,” Ward said of the new product, which has been launched “city by city” in the US. Another new addition to Diageo’s portfolio is Black & White Orange, a ‘spirit drink’ iteration of the blended Scotch brand that has been infused with bitter orange and “other natural flavours”. Due to the addition of flavour, the product cannot be labelled ‘Scotch whisky’. It recently launched in Mexico. Meanwhile, Irish cream liqueur Baileys has launched Baileys Delight in Africa, featuring a new recipe that means it is best served chilled and without ice. Initially released in Lagos, Nigeria, the product contains African honey. Another new product that has joined Diageo’s stable is Avtaar, a whisky-based liqueur blended with fruit and herb extracts, which has been created by the group’s Bangalore-based research and development team. The new products have all been developed in house by Diageo’s regional innovation teams. Big impact According to Ward, the group has reduced the volume of its innovation in recent years, but its new products are now making a bigger impact. He said: “The strength of innovation delivery in Diageo is stronger now than it’s ever been and I’m hugely confident the best days of innovation are ahead. “We are actually doing less innovation now than three years ago because the strength of innovation in our pipeline is delivering everything we are looking for and that allows us to be more choiceful. “We have a few projects but we want to make a big difference.” Last year, Diageo’s biggest innovation to date – Gordon’s Premium Pink – registered sales of 1.21m cases. A key area of focus for the group is 'low and no' drinks, with products such as Seedlip, in which it owns a minority stake, Ketel One Botanical, Smirnoff Infusions and the Gordon’s Ultra Low Alcohol G&T range.