Gin Overview

30 August, 2013

And the brand’s not doing too badly in the UK, either. O’Connor reports value up 45% in the off-trade and 71% in the on-trade. 

The most recent export market for Hendrick’s includes South America and, if you glance at the box about travelling trends (right), you’ll see gin kingpin Angus Winchester touts South America as a hot market. 

Indeed, Hendrick’s will continue to ride the crest of the gin wave with its new Carnival of Knowledge – a series of quirky events and tastings aimed to drive the gin craze ever forward. 

But for Sloane gin maker Tooranks’ Chris Lake, cucumber could be the start of something bigger. He feels there is a danger consumers “start to gain the perception that gins should have a predominant flavour profile other than juniper, thus diluting the essence of the gin category”. 

He warns: “We believe a flavour-infused gin is defeating the purpose of a gin as the flavours should come from the botanicals which have been distilled. There is logic for a flavour infused vodka, but not for a gin.” 

Perhaps this is another example of the evolution of the category. Stateside, Thomas Mooney, co-owner and CEO of House Spirits Distillery, which makes Aviation gin, says gin’s boom time has just begun and it is being driven by ‘new’ expressions of gin.  

“After a decade of year-on-year decline, gin grew last year. It was driven entirely by interest in new expressions of gin, such as Aviation (and Hendrick’s, of course).”  

Foodies, who, according to Simmons Research, now number some 31 million, have expanded the definition of “great food” to “great cocktails,” and there is nearly unlimited upside for gins that make great classic and contemporary cocktails, according to Mooney.

Both Aviation and Hendrick’s fall into the New Western Dry category – a term coined by Aviation co-founder Ryan Magarian, who says this style is a “democracy rather than a dictatorship” when it comes to juniper. As the botanical boom is bent and stretched further, the industry takes cautious steps to embrace it. Lake from Toorank, which has recently launched its Sloane’s gin brand in Spain, Canada and Australia, says the wide array of gins now available is great for generating interest and making the category appealing for a variety of palates and occasions. 

But he adds that “there are a “handful of products that push the boundaries of flavour to the point where you’ve got to question their credentials as a gin”. He adds: “While some of these brands may prove a commercial success, there is a danger that these products will give consumers a distorted impression of gin and hinder their journey into the category.”

For Martin Miller co-founder David Bromidge, the botanical boom is down to the adoption of “hackneyed branding ploys” – the “exotic, attention-grabbing, ‘unique’ or secret ingredient, which as the market gets more crowded becomes increasingly ludicrous”. 

Martin Miller’s has broken the 150,000 case barrier and Spain accounts for a third of the volume. And, like Mooney in the US, Bromidge in the UK sees the ‘foodie’ arena as a space for growth. “Specific to the UK will be attendance at most of the larger  ‘foodie’ and home style events and exhibitions, starting with the Ideal Home Exhibition,” he says. 

Aviation man Magarian calls Martin Miller’s one of the “more modern, balanced approach to gins”. He says these are the ones ripe for growth in the US. Magarian says: “Gin has always been a challenge for the American palate, but things are rapidly changing. 

“That’s thanks to the introduction and embrace of more modern styles of gin that harmonise the juniper component with the alternative botanicals, and a national renaissance of craft cocktail-making here in the States where gin remains the star performer.”

The Distilled Spirits Council of the US says in 2012, 10.7 million 9-litre cases of gin were sold in the United States, generating $872 million in revenue for distillers. The US market imported around 3.6 million cases of gin in 2012. Brands such as Scottish-made Caorunn have seen exceptional growth in the US, albeit from a standing start. The gin went Stateside in April 2011 where it has experienced an enormous 164% growth over the past year. 

We’ve come a long way since the 1700s.

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