The Tonic for Gin

12 September, 2014


With demand comes supply. “A lot of new brands have entered the market – premium and super-premium – and a few have gone just as quickly. But most of the big and recognisable brands, such as ours, have seen steady growth,” says Beefeater’s Iglesias.

With such a proliferation of brands, many question the sustainability of growth. The forecasts may be good for the category, but it is up to the individual brands to find a way of staying in such a competitive arena. 

This is something Hayman’s Johnstone acutely appreciates: “One cannot underestimate the importance of having a strong local partner. Many brands get into Spain and find themselves having to re-set their sights and change their partners. 

“Getting it right first time is key.”

Big players 

At more than one million cases, Beefeater Dry is the number one selling spirit in Spain – that’s spirit, not gin. “In the premium segment you cannot ignore the significant presence of the big-spending large multinational brands such as Beefeater, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire, with some strong super-premium offerings such as Hendrick’s,” says Johnstone.

Iglesias says the on-trade is key for such big names. “Generally speaking, Spain has a unique spirits market that is driven by the on-trade with brands at the centre of it all,” he says 

“We very much see ourselves as competing with not only other gins, but also with other on-trade driven spirit brands,” he adds. “We’ve seen consumers shift from locally produced, standard-grade products such as Larios to imported premium and super-premium products such as Beefeater and Beefeater 24. Because the serve often happens in the on-trade with the product poured at the table, the choice of brand is always important.”

Hayman’s gins might be small by comparison, but Johnstone says they are making steady progress with placements in key on-trade premium accounts and listings in premium off-trade areas such as El Corte Ingles. 

“We are coming to market with our new packaging now and this makes a difference for a discerning consumer,” he says.

G&T and cocktail culture

The G&T is now a highly developed art and, much as it may bore some readers to read about balloon glasses and garnish-gin-tonic combos, the Spanish are showing no signs of fatigue. 

According to Juan Carlos Moroto, marketing director of Global Premium Brands, which owns Gin Mare: “There are always categories coming up and down in Spain but we have never seen a boom like that of the G&T.” Spain accounts for 30% of global sales of Gin Mare.

“Spain has always been important to G&T consumers as long drinks are really big here,” Paul Kerstens says. “If you watched the World Cup, people were drinking G&T – it is the only thing they have. If you entertain people, the only spirit on offer is gin.” 

But what many may not know is that repeated attempts to create or develop a cocktail culture have been in place for many years. “Some isolated outposts of experienced bartenders can and do offer gin cocktails, but there isn’t a strong and sustained need for a classic cocktail culture,” Johnstone says. 

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