Gin: Keeping it real

22 August, 2018

Hayman’s sister, Miranda, is in charge of marketing, merchandising and PR. Her concern for the company is the challenge of marrying up the heritage and history of the company with being perceived as also modern and contemporary, to appeal to the new generation of gin drinkers.

Gladstone says: “It’s a very, very crowded market – so many gins – barrier to entry is low…..and the huge number of whisk(e)y distilleries that have started are using gin brands as a way to generate cash flow and demonstrate to investors that they have something to sell, while waiting to fundraise or for their whisky to mature.”

Award-winning spirits educator and regular DI contributor, Philip Duff, gives an independent perspective from the US. He says: “Gin in the US hasn’t even begun as far as I’m concerned. Overall category sales are dropping, but super-premium sales aren’t increasing as rapidly as in some EU countries with legitimate gin crazes.

“The kind of consumer-led mania for premium gin brands that we’ve seen in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK hasn’t yet begun Stateside but when it does – and I believe it will – the sheer size of the US will make it a seismic change for the whole industry,” he predicts.

Newton House’s Cannon says: “More countries where gin has not previously been produced are now starting the production of weird and wonderful flavoured gins. Although quirky, flavoured gins, which are enjoying good sales now, don’t share the same qualities of a genuine small batch gin and may well become a casualty in the future as the marketplace becomes more saturated.”

OPPORTUNITIES

Gordon’s Tedeschi adds: “When it comes to flavoured gins, this specific sector is nothing new for us. We unveiled our first sloe gin, Gordon’s fruitier little sister, in 1906. More recently, 2017 saw the launch of Gordon’s premium pink distilled gin.”

The popularity of Gordon’s pink has been driving the gin growth in the UK. Diageo also owns bartenders’ favourite gin, Tanqueray.

“Bars and mixologists are already firmly behind gin,” says Duff. “Liquor stores everywhere now understand they must stock at least half a dozen brands, and the US has hundreds of new distilleries, the vast majority making at least one gin that enjoys success in the local market.

“The next step is when this groundswell tips over into consumers en masse demanding ever-more esoteric serves, attending gin festivals and supporting the kind of following Instagram gin culture accounts for in Europe,” says Duff. #gin has 4.3m posts.

CRAFT

“There is no such thing as a craft gin. Small producers of gin are artisans,” states Cannon. “They produce in small stills, usually no more than 250 litres but often much smaller, and when they say small-batch they mean it. One producer claims to be both a craft and small-batch gin and on its label the bottle number is ‘1,104’ – which begs the question, when is small-batch small? The challenge for the small producer is consistency of flavour from one batch to another. This is where the skill lies, the excitement and the enjoyment.”

Gladstone says: “The craft movement has been amazing for the alcohol category – it has turned it on its head and made the big companies realise they have to do more than just churn out big ad campaigns. The challenge for the craft gins in the US, and perhaps around the world, is that the local nature of them often limits them to their immediate locale.”

Halewood’s Roffe adds: “There is no sign of this trend abating and the business is being bombarded by new brand offers. Ultimately, many will never hit the commercial heights of the category’s pioneers, but if the motive is to remain small scale, with local production of unique products and brand experiences, then surely there can be space – and market access – for all.”





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David Williams

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